RANCHI: Stan Swamy was instrumental in filing a PIL on behalf of youths belonging to SC/ST communities and others languishing in Jharkhand jails following cases being registered against them under the stringent sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and Criminal Law Amendment Act (CLA), 1908.
In his PIL, Stan raised the pathetic situation of the undertrials. Hearing Swamy’s PIL in 2018, the Jharkhand High Court called for detailed information on under-trials languishing in the prisons. According to Father PM Tony, who spent a few years in Swamy-run NGO ‘Bagaicha,’ over 3,000 people, mostly tribals, are languishing in jails for many years due to the slow legal process.
“After coming across media reports, Stan was moved as he was deeply concerned about the Adivasis. He wanted to know how we could help and discussed the issue with his colleagues,” said Father Tony. Finally, somebody suggested that a research study could be done on such prisoners and their situation in Jharkhand, he added. “Since I had just completed my Ph.D. and returned from studies; Stan asked me if I was interested to take up the study. I agreed to it and a ‘Bagaicha’ Research Team was formed. It did six months of rigorous fieldwork.”
Before the studies, Father Tony said, they also tried to access Jharkhand jails and approached the IG Prisons who neither give any appointment nor did he respond. “Then an RTI was filed, asking jail authorities to provide details of the undertrials who were booked under the CLA and similar sections dealing with state repression, but no proper reply was given.”
Then they contacted Jeetan Marandi and Damodar Turi who were arrested on similar charges and released on bail, he added. Through these two people, the Bagaicha research team succeeded in tracing several other prisoners who were “falsely implicated and arrested” but were on bail. “We succeeded in tracing some of them and interviewed 102 persons who were out on bail.” Tony said that after proper research, a report was published in 2015 on the basis of which the PIL was filed.