Rajmahal MP and JMM leader Vijay Kumar Hansdak has become the first parliamentarian from Jharkhand to come out in support of octogenarian Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist Father Stan Swamy, who has been arrested and jailed for his alleged involvement in the Bhima Koregaon violence and Maoist links.
Fr Swamy was arrested by the National Investigation Agency on October 8 night from his residence near Ranchi.
In a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind on November 10, Hansdak, son of former Congress MP Thomas Hansdah, has sought the immediate release of the elderly priest and closure of the “false” case lodged against Fr Swamy.
“The 83-year-old Father Swamy is suffering from multiple ailments and is a veteran tribal rights activist and for close to five decades has been working on the forest rights of the tribal community. Through his arrest, NIA is yet again sending a message to the rest of the human rights community that they can stoop to any level to silence and crush dissent,” the letter said.
“Father Stan Swamy’s arrest by NIA is malicious and spiteful as he and his associates have been constantly denying any link with Maoists. The allegation against him about his links in the Bhima Koregaon case is also false and fabricated. I on behalf of people of Jharkhand would like to appeal to take immediate concrete action to stop the proceedings of all the false allegations against Father Swamy and release him. I also appeal to release all those innocent social activists and intellectuals who have been arrested on false allegations,” the MP wrote.
Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren, his Kerala counterpart Pinarai Vijayan, a host of senior Opposition leaders and MPs of the Congress, the DMK, the NCP along with human rights activists from across the country have condemned the arrest and demanded the release of the Jesuit priest. Peaceful protests have been held across the country seeking the release of Fr Swamy.
Fr Swamy, who is lodged in Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai, had last week filed an application in court saying that he cannot hold a glass and asked permission to use a straw and a sipper. The court scheduled the hearing of the application on November 28, as the prosecution sought 20 days to respond. The medical plea of Fr Swamy stated that he had almost lost his hearing ability in both ears, fallen in jail multiple times and has been operated on for hernia twice and still has pain in his lower abdomen.
On October 23, a special NIA court had denied Fr Swamy’s interim bail petition on health grounds.