Updated: July 6, 2021 11:41:25 pm
Amid widespread criticism over the death of tribal rights activist Stan Swamy in judicial custody, the government on Tuesday clarified that the Jesuit priest’s arrest and the subsequent rejection of his bail appeals were “strictly in accordance with the law”. It also pointed out that authorities in India “act against violations of law and not against legitimate exercise of rights”.
In an official statement, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said Father Stan Swamy was arrested and detained by the National Investigation Agency following due process under law and that his bail applications were rejected by the courts because of the “specific nature of charges” against Swamy.
The 84-year-old, who was arrested in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgaar Parishad case on October 8, died on Monday in a private hospital where he was shifted on the directions of the Bombay High Court in May after his health began deteriorating.
Amid allegations of “an institutional murder” and “inhuman treatment” of the activist, the MEA spokesperson further said that in view of Father Stan’s ailing health, the Bombay High Court had allowed his medical treatment at a private hospital “where he was receiving all possible medical attention since May 28.” “His health and medical treatment was being closely monitored by the courts. He passed away on July 5 following medical complications,” the statement said.
The government statement further stated that India’s democratic and constitutional polity is complemented by an independent judiciary, a range of national and state level human rights commissions that monitor violations, a free media and a vibrant and vocal civil society. It asserted that India “remains committed to promotion and protection of human rights of all its citizens.”
Earlier in the day, 10 Opposition leaders, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, NCP’s Sharad Pawar and TMC’s Mamata Banerjee, had written to President Ram Nath Kovind expressing their deep anguish and outrage over the “inhuman treatment” of activist Stan Swamy. They had also urged the President “to direct the Government to act against those responsible for foisting false cases” on the late activist.
“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.” the letter read.
The leaders said the Jesuit priest, who championed the rights and causes of the adivasis of Jharkhand, was jailed on “trumped up charges under the draconian UAPA and was sought to be linked with the Bhima Koregaon case.”
Meanwhile, the family members and friends of the accused in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case had earlier called the death of Father Stan Swamy “an institutional murder” and said that they fear the health and lives of others lodged in jail.
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