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regular-article-logo Monday, 27 May 2024

Organisation named after Stan Swamy calls to free rights defenders

Shahid Father Stan Swamy Nyaya Morcha launches signature campaign in Ranchi, also demands the repeal of the anti-terror law UAPA

Animesh Bisoee Jamshedpur Published 01.03.23, 03:33 AM
Stan Swamy

Stan Swamy File picture

An organisation named after Father Stan Swamy and formed to carry forward the late Jesuit priest’s legacy has launched a signature campaign in Ranchi demanding the release of human rights defenders jailed in several parts of the country and the repeal of the anti-terror law UAPA.

It has also demanded punishment for those responsible for the “murder” of the 84-year-old priest, who was arrested in the Elgaar Parishad-Maoist links case and died in custody, and a probe into the alleged planting of fabricated “evidence” on his electronic devices.

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“Over 3,000 people have so far taken part in the signature campaign, which began on Sunday,” said Bhubaneshwar Kewat, CPIML leader and member of the Shahid Father Stan Swamy Nyaya Morcha.

“The focus is on the release of the human rights defenders and political activists lodged in jails across the country, and on the repeal of the UAPA and the sedition law.”

Kewat added: “The Centre and several state governments are misusing these laws to put right defenders behind bars on fabricated charges, as was done against Father Stan Swamy.”

Father Stan, a tribal rights activist, was accused by the National Investigating Agency of conspiring with Maoists to overthrow the Indian government.

The Parkinson’s patient was arrested in October 2020 from Jharkhand and lodged ina Mumbai jail, where he contracted Covid. He died in custody at a hospital in July 2021, after suffering a cardiac arrest, while waiting for the trial to begin.

“We have the support not only of human rights organisations but of people from all walks of life: social workers, farmers, labourers, students, youths, women’s organisations. Artists and even sportspersons have joined the signature campaign,” Kewat said.

The campaign will continue in Ranchi till March 4, after which it willbe extended to other parts of Jharkhand.

CPM leader S.K. Roy, a member of the Morcha, said the documents with the signatures would be handed over to President Droupadi Murmu.

“We aim to gather about one lakh signatures and submit the documents to President Murmu in April,” Kewat said.

“We will demand a fair probe in the light of (US firm) Arsenal Consulting’s allegations about the manoeuvring of evidence, especially on the electronic devices of Stan Swamy, and action against the federal agencies responsible for his murder.”

The Morcha had last December submitted a memorandum addressed to President Murmu through then governor Ramesh Bais, seeking further investigation into the Elgaar Parishad case.

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