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Opposition leaders write to President, seek action on Stan Swamy death

In a letter to the President on Tuesday, the Opposition leaders have also demanded the release of all those jailed in the Bhima Koregaon case and others who are held “under politically motivated cases”.

Written by Manoj C G | New Delhi |
Updated: July 7, 2021 1:05:48 am
Civil rights activist Father Stan Swamy (Photo: PTI)

Expressing their “intense grief and outrage” at the “death of Father Stan Swamy under custody”, the leaders of 10 major Opposition parties, including three chief ministers, have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to direct the Centre to act against “those responsible for foisting false cases on him, his continued detention in jail and inhuman treatment”.

In a letter to the President on Tuesday, the Opposition leaders have also demanded the release of all those jailed in the Bhima Koregaon case and others who are held “under politically motivated cases”.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin and Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren are among the signatories. The others include former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda (JD-S), Farooq Abdullah (NC), Sharad Pawar (NCP), Tejashwi Yadav (RJD), Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M), and D Raja (CPI).

However, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav, who were part of two joint Opposition letters and a joint statement in May, are not among the signatories.

“We are urging your immediate intervention as the President of India to direct ‘your government’ to act against those responsible for foisting false cases on him, his continued detention in jail and inhuman treatment. They must be held accountable. It is now incumbent that all those jailed in the Bhima Koregaon case and other detenues under politically motivated cases, misusing draconian laws like UAPA, Sedition etc, be released forthwith,” the Opposition leaders have said in their letter to Kovind.

“The 84-year-old Jesuit priest and activist who championed the rights and causes of the Adivasis in far-flung areas of Jharkhand was jailed last October on trumped-up charges under the draconian UAPA and was sought to be linked with the Bhima Koregaon case. He was denied treatment for his various ailments including debilitating Parkinson’s. (It was) Only after a nationwide campaign was conducted that even a sipper to drink liquids was made available to him in jail,” says the letter.

“The numerous appeals made to shift him out of the over-crowded Taloja jail that had seen a huge rise in Covid cases went unheeded. His appeals for bail and being sent home too were rejected. Thanks to the Bombay High Court’s intervention he was admitted to a private hospital when his condition started deteriorating after he was infected with Covid. But it was too late to prevent his death in custody,” it says.

In May, both Uddhav Thackeray and Akhilesh Yadav were part of two joint Opposition letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi – demanding resumption of talks with the protesting farmer groups, and on vaccine procurement. They were also signatories to a joint Opposition statement asking the Centre to launch a free mass vaccination drive across the country.

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