Jesuits and Catholics plan Requiem Masses for Stan Swamy
The ashes of Father Stan Swamy arrived at the Jamshedpur Jesuit Province, from where he had begun his service in Jharkhand, on Friday and was placed at the Loyola Chapel for people to pay their last respects.
Jesuits and Catholics have planned Requiem Masses (held for the dead) at Jamshedpur and Ranchi.
Politicians and tribal rights activists on Friday visited Bagaicha, the social research centre at Namkum near Ranchi that Fr Stan had set up and where he lived, and vowed to carry on with the movement to repeal the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Fr Stan, who passed away in a Mumbai hospital on Monday in judicial custody while awaiting bail for nine months, had challenged the UAPA in Bombay High Court. He had been arrested in the Bhima-Koregaon Maoist links case under the UAPA, which allows for detention without trial for six months.
The Provincial of the Jamshedpur Jesuit Province, Fr Jerome Cutinha, said the ashes of Fr Stan would be kept at the Loyola Chapel in Jamshedpur for two days — Friday and Saturday. Since Sunday is a weekend lockdown in view of Covid, the planned memorial Mass at XLRI Jamshedpur will be held online in the evening.
“There will be a Requiem Mass at the Ranchi Cathedral by the Ranchi Archdiocese on Saturday morning and thereafter in the evening an online mass will be held by Jesuits. If there are requests, we will send the ashes to other parts of Jharkhand for people to pay their respects. On August 3 the ashes will be laid to rest at the Jesuits’ graveyard in Jamshedpur,” Fr Jerome said.
CPI-ML general secretary Dipankar Bhattacharya visited Bagaicha on Friday evening to pay his respects to Fr Stan.
“I had come here during the first NIA raid (in 2019) and spent some time with Fr Stan, who has been martyred for raising his voice for the tribals and the oppressed. We will continue the agitation and the mission of Fr Stan,” he said.
“Our leader (Bagodar MLA Vinod Kumar Singh) will take part in a joint rally of rights activists, academics and political leaders of different parties to the Raj Bhavan on July 15 to submit a memorandum demanding the repeal of the UAPA and the release of rights activists lodged under the sedition law in Jharkhand and other parts of the country,” Bhattacharya said.
Mahendra Patha, a leader of the Jharkhand Kisan Mahasabha that is part of the farmers’ movement against central farm laws, also visited Bagaicha. He said the BJP-led central government’s “efforts to suppress voices of dissent with arrests would not be successful” and that the agitation would be intensified by also involving farmers and social activists.
RJD state vice-president Rajesh Yadav said efforts should be made to form a common platform of all Opposition parties not only in Jharkhand but across the country against the BJP-led Centre’s strategy of arresting rights activists under draconian laws like the UAPA.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 105 UAPA cases had been registered in Jharkhand in 2019, trailing only Manipur (306), Tamil Nadu (270) and Jammu and Kashmir (255).