Koregaon-Bhima Case: NIA takes 83-yr-old tribal rights activist Stan Swamy into custody
The Jesuit priest and veteran tribal rights activist became the oldest person to be charged with terrorism-related offences in the case
Stan Swamy, an 83-year-old Jharkhand-based human rights activist, was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday in connection with the probe into the 2018 violence in Maharashtra's Koregaon-Bhima village. This is the 16th arrest in the Elgar Parishad case.
The Jesuit priest and veteran tribal rights activist became the oldest person to be charged with terrorism-related offences in the case. Swamy was questioned by the NIA in July and August and summoned to the agency’s office in Mumbai this week.
According to Scroll, Swamy was taken into custody from the Jesuit-run Bagaicha social centre, where he lives. "No warrant was presented," a colleague on the campus said.
"NIA people were rough and arrogant. They said he (Swamy) was accused and a senior officer wants to meet him at the NIA office in Ranchi." However, it is not clear where the activist was taken.
In a statement released earlier in the day, Swamy said he had recently been interrogated by the central agency for 15 hours over a span of five days – 27 to 30 July and then on 6 August. He was summoned to the agency’s office in Mumbai this week, Indian Express reported.
The report further quoted Swamy as saying: "What is happening to me is not unique. Many activists, lawyers, writers, journalists, student leaders, poets, intellectuals and others who stand for the rights of Adivasis, Dalits and the marginalised and express their dissent to the ruling powers of the country are being targeted."
The probe agency claimed that Swamy is a member of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) and was "actively involved in its activities".
"He also received funds through an associate for furtherance of the CPI (Maoist) activities," NDTV quoted officials as saying.
The agency said documents and propaganda material of the CPI (Maoist) and literature were seized from Swamy, adding that he was in contact with the other accused in the Koregaon-Bhima case.
Responding sharply against Swamy's arrest, author and historian Ramachandra Guha alleged that the Narendra Modi government favoured mining companies over the lives and livelihoods of Adivasis.
"That is why the Modi regime seeks to suppress and silence them; because for this regime, the profits of mining companies take precedence over the lives and livelihoods of adivasis," Guha tweeted.
Listen to Stan Swamy’s video in this story; his dignity and courage in the face of state persecution is deeply moving. https://t.co/J75xHN1kYe
— Ramachandra Guha (@Ram_Guha) October 9, 2020
Lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan tweeted, "Now arrested by the NIA under UAPA! The venality of this BJP govt and NIA knows no bound."
Read the extraordinary human rights record of Fr Stan Swamy who has devoted his life to serving the poor Adivasis of Jharkhand. Now arrested by the NIA under UAPA! The venality of this BJP govt & NIA knows no bounds https://t.co/1ILsm7mUEj
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) October 9, 2020
Several prominent activists, scholars and lawyers have been jailed for over two years while they await trial.
Originally from Kerala, Swamy has been working for tribals in Jharkhand for over five decades.
Last month, the Supreme Court declined to entertain a plea for interim bail on medical grounds by lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj, who is among the accused in the case.
Bharadwaj, 58, has been in jail in Mumbai for over two years and is suffering from diabetes and comorbidities and wanted interim bail so that she could take a medical check-up, her lawyer had said.
With inputs from PTI
I insisted that Uddhav Thackeray become Maharashtra chief minister: Sharad Pawar's snipe at Fadnavis
The comment comes as BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis said that the Shiv Sena chief had covertly nurtured ambitions of occupying the top post in the state
The death toll went up by 49 to 1,39,670 on Wednesday, while the state had reported 43 and 36 fatalities on Tuesday and Monday respectively.
Crop loss following excess rainfall in water-starved Vihamandwa area force farmers to defer daughters' weddings
Vihamandwa circle, as against the average expected rainfall of 564.6 mm, recorded 1,365.9 mm downpour this year, according to the revenue department