Elgaar Parishad case: NHRC seeks report on Swamy jail care
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has sought an action taken report from the superintendent of prisons in connection with the alleged denial of medical facilities to octogenarian Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist Father Stan Swamy at the Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai.
Fr Stan, 84, is presently undergoing treatment under custody at the Holy Family Hospital in Mumbai.
The NHRC has sought the report from the prison authorities within four weeks from the date of receipt of the letter, a copy of which is available with The Telegraph. NHRC assistant registrar (law) Subhra Tyagi had sent an email to the prison authorities on June 26.
Jesuit lawyer from Tamil Nadu, Father Santhanam A, had moved the NHRC in May drawing attention to the alleged denial of medical facilities to Fr Stan during the pandemic despite showing Covid-like symptoms of cold, fever, body pain and diarrhoea. He had also said an ayurveda doctor was treating Fr Stan and sought the intervention of the NHRC in the matter.
The lawyer had also claimed that a majority of the jail staff, especially those working in the kitchen, and a number of undertrial prisoners had tested Covid-positive.
Fr Stan was also diagnosed with Covid on May 30 after an RT-PCR test at the Holy Family Hospital, Bandra. He had been vaccinated on May 18 at the jail when he allegedly had fever.
“Father Stan Swamy is suffering from Parkinson’s, loss of hearing and was also having fever, cough and trouble in his stomach. He was not even vaccinated. It was only after (the) Bombay High Court order on May 28 that he was shifted to Holy Family Hospital and was diagnosed as Covid positive. He has been in prison since October 9, 2020, and was vaccinated despite him having fever which is against medical protocol. The situation is the same with other 15 co-accused in the same case. We want the prison authorities to know that they cannot escape as an independent body is now watching over them,” said Fr Santhanam.
Fr Stan and 15 others have been arrested under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act by the National Investigation Agency in the Bhima-Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case.
Father Joe Xavier, director of Bangalore-based Indian Social Institute, who is coordinating with Jesuits on Fr Stan’s matter, told this newspaper that the priest was shifted to the ICU at Holy Family Hospital on Tuesday because of health complications.
Bombay High Court had on June 17 extended Fr Stan’s stay in the private hospital till July 5 as he continues to remain critical and requires intensive care. The next hearing of the bail petition of Fr Stan will be taken up by the high court on July 3.