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Stan Swamy's death | Centre cannot justify tribal activist’s ‘murder’, says Sanjay Raut

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

Launching a broadside at the Narendra Modi-led Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government over the death of Father Stan Swamy, Shiv Sena MP and party spokesman Sanjay Raut on Sunday said that that the ‘murder’ of the octogenarian tribal-rights activist in prison could not be justified, while comparing the Modi regime with that of the Fascist governments of Benito Mussolini and Adolph Hitler.   

In his weekly column Rokhthok in the Sena’s mouthpiece Saamana, Mr. Raut bitingly questioned as to whether the country’s foundations had become so weak that the Modi government feared its regime's overthrow by an 84-year-old Jesuit priest and activist.  

Remarking that to oppose the government and to oppose the country are two different things, Mr. Raut said: “A government which is afraid of a crippled and weak 84-year-old person, is surely ‘dictatorial’ by attitude and ‘weak’ at heart, similar to that of Hitler and Mussolini.” 

Father Swamy, who had been arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with the ‘Elgaar Parishad’ case in October last year, had died in judicial custody earlier this month while undergoing treatment at Mumbai’s Holy Family hospital. 

In a blistering attack on the Modi government, Mr. Raut said that the death of the “disabled and helpless Father Swamy” in prison could not be justified even if Maoists and Naxals were more dangerous than Kashmiri separatists. 

He compared the BJP-ruled Centre’s charges against Fr. Swamy and the other jailed activists and academics to the one levelled by the Indira Gandhi-led government that had accused stalwart trade unionist George Fernandes of plotting to overthrow the government in the mid-1970s. 

“Indira Gandhi was afraid of George Fernandes. But the latter was a young leader at the time and not an elderly man like Father Stan Swamy. Today’s government [Modi regime] is scared of octogenarians like Father Swamy and poet Varavara Rao,” said Mr. Raut.

Commenting on the controversial ‘Elgaar Parishad’ (on December 31, 2017), Mr. Raut said that while it was definitely a ‘toxic’ event and that while no one could support the allegedly inflammatory speeches and slogans made there, whatever occurred after that (Pune police’s crackdown on the activists) should be dubbed a conspiracy (on the Centre’s part) to curb freedom of expression. 

Mr. Raut rebuked the Centre further over Father Swamy’s death by questioning whether making tribal communities aware of their rights and freedom meant overthrowing the country’s elected government.  

“What does it mean to wage war against the State? What constitutes treason and anti-national activities? Does making tribal people in forests aware of their rights and freedom mean overthrowing the democratically elected government of a country?” asked the Sena leader, in a withering criticism of the Central government.

A few weeks earlier, prior to the Union cabinet reshuffle, Mr. Raut had reportedly ‘softened’ his stance on the BJP and PM Modi amid raging speculation that the Sena was gravitating towards the BJP. This treatment of the BJP with 'kid gloves' had been reflected in the Sena’s mouthpiece a few days back, when a Saamana edit had criticized Congress leader Rahul Gandhi for his failure to get together a viable opposition to take on the BJP. 

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Printable version | Sep 17, 2021 4:58:00 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/stan-swamys-death-in-custody-cant-be-jusitified-sanjay-raut/article35263448.ece

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