Catholic church leaders and tribal right activists term it as murder
Ranchi, July 5: Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren blamed the Centre’s apathy and the denial of much-needed medical help for the death of 84-year-old Jesuit priest who was in judicial custody while undergoing treatment at a hospital in Mumbai.
Expressing shock at his demise, Hemant tweeted: “Shocked to learn about the demise of Father Stan Swamy. He dedicated his life working for tribal rights. I had strongly opposed his arrest & incarceration. The Union Govt should be answerable for absolute apathy & non provision of timely medical services, leading to his death.”
Leaders of the Church dubbed Father Swamy’s death as the “murder of an innocent man”. Theodore Mascarenhas, the Bishop of Ranchi, said, “We simply see it as an innocent man being killed. He was even refused a straw in jail and for seven months. Bail was denied. It’s time that the entire criminal justice system in India is reviewed.”
Several tribal & civil rights groups called it a murder of democracy. Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a conglomeration of rights groups, said, “It is a clear cut case of murder of a person who dedicated his life for the cause of adivasis. We have been demanding for his bail, citing how he was booked under false cases. The investigators and the Central government didn’t even consider his age…”
Swamy was put on a ventilator two days ago during treatment at the Holy Family Hospital in Mumbai. Dr Ian D’Souza of Holy Family Hospital informed the Bombay high court about his passing on Monday, a day before his bail hearing was scheduled.
Swamy was the oldest defendant in the Elgaar Parishad terrorism case at 84. He was arrested by the National Investigation Agency in October last year in connection to an ongoing probe related to Bhima Koregan blast in 2008. After testing covid-19 positive few weeks ago, Swamy was finally shifted to hospital from Taloja jail on May 30, where he was languishing since October last year, on Bombay high court’s directives.
On Sunday too, JJM had demanded that the Centre and the Maharashtra government ensure that all necessary medical and specialised treatment was made avaialble to Swamy after he was put on ventilator.
Jesuit priest Stan Swamy, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, has died, an official of a hospital where he was being treated informed the Bombay High Court on Monday.
Swamy, 84, died at 1.30 pm on Monday, Dr Ian D’Souza, director of the Holy Family Hospital in suburban Bandra, told the HC’s division bench of Justices S S Shinde and N J Jamadar.
The tribal rights activist was admitted to the private hospital on May 29 from the Taloja prison following the HC’s order on a petition filed by him, seeking medical attention as he was then suffering from COVID-19 and Parkinson’s disease.
D’Souza told the court that Swamy suffered a cardiac arrest early Sunday morning following which he was put on ventilator support. He (Swamy) did not recover and passed away this afternoon, the official told the court.
The cause of the death is pulmonary infection, Parkinson’s disease and post COVID-19 complications, he said.
Swamy’s counsel Mihir Desai said there was negligence on part of the Taloja prison authorities, who failed to provide immediate medical attention to the Jesuit priest.
Swamy has been undergoing treatment at the Holy Family Hospital here, following a court order on May 28. The cost of his treatment at the private hospital is being borne by his associates and friends.
On Saturday, advocate Desai told a bench of Justices S S Shinde and N J Jamadar that Swamy’s health was critical and that he was still in the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU).
The bench had then adjourned the hearing on Swamy’s medical bail plea to Monday and extended his stay at the hospital till then.
Last week, Swamy also filed a fresh plea in the HC, challenging section 43D(5) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), that imposes stringent bars on the grant of bail to an accused charged under the Act.