Jesuit priest under Pune police scanner
Ranchi: A special team from Crime Branch of Pune police on Tuesday morning searched the Namkum home of Christian Jesuit priest and social activist Father Stan Swamy as part of the nationwide raids against social activists dubbed 'urban Maoists' and allegedly involved in the caste-related violence in Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1.
A senior policeman from Pune said Swamy was "suspected to have links with Elgar Parishad that is leading the violent Dalit movement in Maharashtra".
Armed with a search warrant, the eight-member Pune police team, aided by Namkum police, seized Swamy's computer, laptop, CDs, books and documents in the three-hour raid that began at 6am at Baigacha, a building where rights activists host seminars and where the priest stays in a room.
Swamy, in his mid-70s, was interrogated but not arrested. He was also made to sign a seizure list written in Marathi.
"One of the laws under which Swamy has been booked is Section 153A of IPC. The purpose of the Section 153 A is to punish persons who attack the religion, race, place of birth, residence, language etc of any particular group," another policeman in the team said, but added they did not have an arrest warrant.
Swamy refused to talk to newspersons. His close aide Father Solomon said, "Ask the police, we know nothing."
According to noted tribal rights activist in Ranchi, Vasavi Kiro, who rushed to Bagaicha, Pune Crime Branch inspector Dipak Nikam said the search was to ascertain if Swamy was in any way connected to the "banned Naxalite Elgar Parishad." "He said they just wanted to find out whether Swamy is linked to Elgar Parishad or not," said Kiro. "He told us that one or some of those arrested in this connection in Maharashtra named Swamy. We still don't know how that happened. Everything is very sketchy. We somehow sourced the original FIR copy of the case filed at Vishrambag thana (Maharashtra), but couldn't read it as it was in Marathi. We are contacting our Marathi friends to understand the case," she said.
She said Swamy told the police he knew nothing about the banned outfit or anything about the Dalit movement. "He told the police he never heard about them and had never visited Maharashtra. He has been very vocal about tribal rights in Jharkhand but I know he has never been to Maharashtra."
She added the laptop had articles on land rights and violations and the CDs had songs.