Mumbai

Remembering Father Stan Swamy on his 85th birthday

Father Stan Swamy | Photo Credit: PTI

Late Father Stan Swamy would have turned 85 on Tuesday. Father Stan, a Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist, was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on October 9, 2020 from his home in Bagaicha, Ranchi, which had a library and a computer room for tribals.

He was charged with several sections of the Indian Penal Code and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in the Bhima Koregaon caste violence case. A plea seeking to clear his name in the case is pending before the Bombay High Court. Fr. Stan Swamy passed away at a private hospital on July 5, 2021.

He was suffering from Parkinson's disease and had lost his hearing ability. Just before his death in April last year, the special NIA court had rejected his medical bail and held forth thus: “ Prima facie it can be gathered that Fr. Swamy, along with other members of the banned organisation, hatched a serious conspiracy to create unrest in the entire country and to overpower the government, politically and by using muscle power.”

Remembering him on his birthday, his close aide Xavier Dias said, "Stan hated birthdays. He didn't like all the fuss. But we will celebrate his birthday this year because it is important to keep his memory alive as he inspired so many people." He said, "There are hundreds of Dalit and Muslim women in Kantatoli, Ranchi, who are offering dua (prayer) and meal to children in his memory."

Father Stan represented a life that lived for the poor and the Adivasis, author and activist for justice and development Farah Naqvi said, "He not only worked for the poor and underprivileged, he stood by them and that showed moral clarity and courage. His life is a parable for future generations."

Meghanath, his student at the Indian Social Institute (ISI), Bangalore in the 1980s, said, "Father Stan was not only a teacher, he was a friend and a comrade in arms. He worked for people on the ground with them. He always stood for human dignity, even in his last days in jail. He tirelessly fought for jal (water), jungle (forest) and zameen (land) for tribal people."

Father Tony, who lived with Father Stan, said an installation of Father Stan's bust will be unveiled on Tuesday at Bagaicha and his autobiography that was released posthumously by ISI will be released in Hindi.

Marking his 100 days of incarceration in jail, Fr. Stan had written in a letter, “But we still sing in chorus. A caged bird can still sing.”


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Printable version | Apr 26, 2022 10:29:20 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/remembering-father-stan-swamy-on-his-85th-birthday/article65353968.ece