Mumbai

Remembering Father Stan Swamy on International Human Rights Day

File photo of civil rights activist Father Stan Swamy.   | Photo Credit: PTI

 

Remembering the late tribal rights activist Father Stan Swamy, Father Frazer Mascarenhas said Fr. Stan was fully committed to human rights and it was unfortunate that the entire Bhima Koregaon case against him was a violation of his human rights and those of others. The Bombay High Court declared Fr. Frazer Mascarenhas as Fr. Stan’s next of kin.

Talking about Fr. Stan on International Human Rights Day, Fr. Frazer said, “Fr. Stan had been through such a difficult time of ill-treatment [in jail], so he knew what others were going through. He was really worried about those [co-accused] in the Taloja jail and the ladies in Byculla jail. He would have been very happy to know that Sudha [Bharadwaj] is out on bail.”

 

Looking back on his last conversations with Fr. Stan, Fr. Frazer said, “In one of the conversations we had in the COVID ICU, I had told him that he had COVID and he said, ‘I had expected that because I was in the Taloja jail hospital, which is a misnomer because all they gave there was ‘paraacetamoll’, and then he laughed. He repeated that and laughed [again]. The hospital only has Ayurvedic doctors; there is no allopathy doctor.”

“Fr. Stan was a scholar, a social scientist and an activist on behalf of the tribals and Dalits of the area, for whom he had dedicated his life too. He told me he found out that there are 5,000 young tribals in jail for absolutely no reason. He had done a study with the team and interviewed the families of the undertrials. He was very concerned about them and he used all the constitutional means available and filed a public interest litigation [before the Jharkhand High Court]. That seems to be working. That is why he became a threat to the Government of the day,” Fr. Frazer said.

 

A former principal of St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai, Fr. Frazer said, “Fr. Stan was fully committed to human rights and when he was implicated in the [Bhima Koregaon] case, he was shocked that it was not dismissed by the Pune court. His incarceration was the result of him standing up for the human rights of tribals. He was ready to pay that price. He knew it could lead him to jail, but he said he couldn’t betray the people. He always stood for human rights and he fought for the human rights of others right till the end.”

Fr. Stan died on July 5 at the age of 84 at a private hospital.


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Printable version | Jan 17, 2022 4:50:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/remembering-father-stan-swamy-on-international-human-rights-day/article37915350.ece

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