Tribal rights activist Stan Swamy dead

Octogenarian tribal rights activist and Jesuit priest Father Stan Swamy passed away on Monday, a day before the Bombay High Court was to hear his bail application.

Swamy was arrested in October last year in connection with the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case. The 84-year-old, who had since been lodged at the Taloja jail near Mumbai, was shifted to the Holy Family Hospital in the city on May 28 on a court order after his health deteriorated. He later tested positive for Covid-19.

Swamy’s counsel approached the Bombay High Court for an urgent hearing of the bail plea after his health further deteriorated on Sunday. On Monday, the hospital’s medical director Ian D’Souza informed a bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar about Swamy’s death.

Tribal Rights Activist Stan Swamy Dead

“We record with heavy heart that Dr Ian D’souza, medical director of the Holy Family Hospital, informed us that Stan Swamy passed away at 1.24 pm today,” the bench said.

D’souza told the court that the death was due to pulmonary infection, Parkinson’s disease and post-Covid complications. The National Investigation Agency, which took over the case last year from the Pune Police, had arrested Swamy under the stringent provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

According to police, speeches made during the December 2017 Elgar Parishad event in Pune had in part led to violence at Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018. The Pune police claimed to have found “active links” of those who were named in the case with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) and said that they had helped organise the Elgar Parishad.

At an earlier hearing, the Jesuit priest had refused to get admitted to a private hospital and told the court through a video link that he “would rather suffer and possibly die” and that he “would rather be in Ranchi with my friends”. He had insisted that he be granted interim bail instead.

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