In a statement issued on Tuesday, friends and family members of Father Stan Swamy, who passed away here on Monday, said, “We are deeply pained and shaken to the core by the loss of Father Stan Swamy. This is not a natural death, but the institutional murder of a gentle soul, committed by an inhuman state. Having spent his life amongst the Adivasis in Jharkhand, fighting for their right to resources and lands, Father Stan did not deserve to die in this manner, far from his beloved Jharkhand, falsely imprisoned by a vindictive state.”
Father Stan was the last of the 16 people to be arrested and accused in the Bhima Koregaon case and sent to prison. At 84 years of age and ailing due to Parkinson’s disease, he was the eldest among those arrested and the frailest.
The statement reads:
“It is unconscionable that someone of his age and ill-health was put in the prison in the first place, and that too, in the middle of an ongoing pandemic. The investigation against him was already complete by the time that he was arrested on 8th October 2020, and he was clearly not a flight risk. His arrest and subsequent detention in Taloja Prison in Navi Mumbai was already a death sentence pronounced against him.
“At the time of his arrest, Fr. Stan released a moving video statement, where he stated softly but clearly, that the NIA sleuths were accusing him of a Maoist conspiracy based on certain documents recovered from his computer—documents which he had never seen before and certainly did not place them on his computer. His claims that these documents had been surreptitiously planted was firmly upheld through the stunning disclosures of Arsenal Consulting and Washington Post made public earlier this year, which clearly detailed the method through which incriminating documents had been remotely planted on the computers of the Bhima Koregaon accused using the Netwire malware.
“The callous disregard to Father Stan’s health continued after his imprisonment, when he was not even allowed a straw and sipper cup in prison. Even for something as basic as this, he needed to move the court, which moved at a frustratingly leisurely pace. Later, as his health continued to deteriorate in prison, his medical bail plea was mechanically turned down by the same blind, unfeeling and insensitive NIA court. Even his Covid disease was not diagnosed in jail and could only be detected after he was moved to the hospital on orders of the High Court.
“We unequivocally hold the negligent jails, the indifferent courts and the malicious investigating agencies firmly responsible for his unfortunate death. We fear for the health and lives of our family members and colleagues, who are facing similar injustices in the same jails, under the same unaccountable system.”