The NIA on Thursday took into custody 83-year-old Jharkhand-based activist Stan Swamy from his Ranchi home in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case. This is the 16th arrest in the case.
Swamy, a Jesuit priest, was questioned by the NIA in July and August and summoned to the agency’s office in Mumbai this week.
In a statement, Swamy said he is not in a position to undertake the journey, given his age and the pandemic. He said he had told NIA that there was a Jharkhand government directive that those above 60 years of age may not appear in public and that he could be questioned over video-conference.
“…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,” Swamy’s statement said.
The NIA has claimed that the accused had links with CPI (Maoist).
Swamy said the NIA falsely implicated his connection with Maoist forces. He said he has been working for Adivasis and questioning the government over issues of land rights, representation of community members and forest rights. “This, I believe, is the main reason why the State is keen to put me out of the way…,” his statement said.
Condemning the arrest, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) said: “…the arrest of Fr. Stan by the NIA is malicious and spiteful as Fr. Stan has consistently denied any link with extremist leftist forces or Maoists. He had also clearly told the NIA that some so called extracts allegedly taken from his computer shown to him by the NIA were fake and fabricated and that he disowned them.”
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