We come together to mourn the death of Father Stan Swamy S.J.

Stan’s was a long life, extraordinarily well lived, dedicated to the most discriminated and disenfranchised peoples in our society. He stood up in the fight for economic, social and political rights of adivasis in Jharkhand including against the unlawful arrest of those who press for their rights and for equity, justice and dignity in society.

We come together to express our outrage at the circumstances of Stan’s death. He fell to an act of state orchestrated culpable homicide. Stan was questioned, searched and harassed for two years before he was arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in October 2020 on charges that have remained entirely unproven and unsubstantiated in the three years since they were first levelled against him and others in the Bhima Koregaon case.

Aged 84 and a patient of Parkinson’s disease, Stan was transported from Ranchi to the Taloja jail on the outskirts of Mumbai, where he wasn’t even provided the facilities that ought to be provided to a healthy prisoner. When he arrived at the jail he needed a special cup to drink water because of his medical condition. The Bombay High Court allowed the jail officers to prevaricate for several weeks before he was finally given the drinking aid. In the months in jail, he lost his capacity to walk on his own or to eat without assistance and also contracted Covid. The conditions in jail had undermined Stan’s right to life itself. In March 2021 the Special Court denied him bail since there was supposedly ‘prima facie evidence’ against him. He was denied bail on medical grounds too.

Following a tortuous series of hearings at the Bombay High Court, Stan was finally moved to hospital on 29 May 2021 where he was asked to bear his own medical expenses and where he died yesterday, Tuesday, 5 July 2021, due to post Covid complications. His bail hearings were yet to be completed by the High Court.

The executive branch of the state – the investigative agencies, the police, the jail authorities and all those who they report to – and the judiciary including the high judiciary are culpable for the crime – the death of Stan Swamy as an undertrial. We call for all those involved to be held to account.

Above all Stan was sent to his death under the vengeful watch of Mr. Narendra Modi and his BJP who lead an authoritarian government that uses all its power to put down every individual and every organisation that stands up to question them and challenges their attack on peoples’ democratic rights. The responsibility is finally theirs.

In remembering Stan our struggle must go stronger as we call for the release of all political prisoners, in jails across the country as undertrials and the repeal of the UAPA, the law on sedition and laws to undermine the right to democratic dissent.

Rajiv Dhimri
General Secretary

B. Pradeep
General Secretary

Gautam Mody
General Secretary

Sanjay Singhvi
General Secretary

New Delhi, 6 July 2021 /