Stan Lourduswamy, commonly known as Stan Swamy, an undertrial prisoner in the Bhima Koregaon violence case, died on Monday at 1:30 pm, a month after being admitted to a Mumbai private hospital. He was 84 at the time of his death.
The accused was undergoing treatment at the Holy Family Hospital in Mumbai after his condition deteriorated in May. Swamy had been in jail for nine months in connection with his involvement in the Bhima Koregaon case. He suffered from Parkinson’s disease and was put on ventilator support on Sunday after suffering a heart attack on Saturday.
Who is Stan Swamy?
Stan Swamy was an Indian Roman Catholic priest, a member of the Jesuit order. He fashioned himself as an activist of sorts, allegedly fighting for the rights of the tribals. Stan, who hailed from Trichy, Tamil Nadu, studied theology and completed his masters in Sociology, in the 1970s, from the Philippines, where he participated in demonstrations and protests against the administration.
Later on, he served as the Director of the Indian Social Institute in Bengaluru from 1975 to 1986. Following this stint, he continued his activism in Jharkhand. Swamy participated in protests, ostensibly for the rights of tribals, in several parts of the country, most notably Jharkhand. Stan Swamy is the founder member of Vistapan Virodhi Janvikash Andolan (VVJA), a pan-India platform that claims to campaign against human rights violations caused by the displacement of Adivasi people, Dalits, and farmers from their lands.
Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon Case
Stan Swamy had been involved in anarchic activities for quite some time, however, the chickens finally came home to roost when he was accused as one of the co-conspirators of the violence that erupted at the Elgar Parishad in 2018.
The Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case pertains to an event organised at Shaniwar Wada called Elgar Parishad on December 31, 2017. The following day, i.e January 1, 2018, large scale violence broke out at Bhima Koregaon, where lakhs of Dalits had gathered to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, won by the British Army—comprising mostly soldiers from the Dalit community—against the Peshwas in 1818.
An FIR was filed in connection with the violence on January 8 after which Pune Police kickstarted a probe into it. According to the police, arrested ‘activists’ claimed that the event was organised as part of alleged Maoist activity and the accused were members.
The Pune police continued the probe in the matter for 2 years after which the investigation was transferred to the National Investigation Agency in January this year. The agency said that incriminating documents and letters were found on the devices of some of the accused, tying their links to the banned CPI(M) group.
Soon after, the case was transferred to the NIA. The Pune police had arrested another nine supposed “intellectuals”, including Sudha Bharadwaj, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, and Varavara Rao for inciteful speeches.
Stan Swamy was a key conspirator in the Elgar Parishad Bhima Koregaon violence case : NIA
According to the NIA, Stan Swamy was a key conspirator in the Bhima Koregaon Elgar Parishad case of 2017, which witnessed violence, stone-pelting, and arson at Shaniwar Wada in Pune. He was arrested on October 8 and produced before the Special Court in Mumbai the following day. Interestingly, he was never put under police custody and was instead remanded to judicial custody at Taloja Central jail. The NIA had informed that all legal formalities, including medical examination, were undertaken.
As per the Central investigative agency, Stan Swamy was a ‘hard-core CPI (Maoist) activist’ who had received funds from other Maoists for furthering the activities of the banned outfit. He was also the convenor of PPSC, an organisation that was alleged to be a front organisation of CPI(M). “Incriminating documents related to communications for furthering the activities of the banned terrorist organisation CPI (Maoist) were seized from his possession,” the NIA emphasised.
Swamy had conspired with Maoists to overthrow government: Special Court
Soon after Stan Swamy was arrested for his involvement in the Bhima Koregaon violence case, the left-liberal lobby went into overdrive to fight for his bail. However, earlier this year, the special NIA court refused to grant bail to the Jesuit priest, maintaining that prima facie Stan had hatched a “serious conspiracy” with the members of banned Maoist organisation to plunge the country into chaos and overthrow the government.
Rejecting the bail plea of Stan Swamy, the special judge DE Kothalikar cited the email correspondence between the activist and his co-accused, observing that Stan and others he communicated with were referred to as “comrades”, and that Swamy had received Rs 8 lakhs from one comrade, Mohan, allegedly for the furtherance of Maoist activities.
Was Stan Swamy denied straw-sipper by NIA while in Taloja jail? Facts
In November 2020, while the usual suspects were busy making a case for Stan’s clemency, citing his advanced age and severe ailments as grounds for granting him mercy, Stan filed an application before the NIA court, accusing the central agency of seizing his straw and sipper.
The central agency rubbished the claims and issued a statement, stating that Stan Swamy had falsely claimed in an application before the NIA court that his straw and sipper have been withheld by the NIA.
NIA informed, “NIA duly filed its reply in the Court on the scheduled date i.e. 26/11/2020 stating therein that NIA had conducted his personal search in presence of independent witnesses and no such straw and sipper were found. The Hon’ble Court rejected Swamy’s application and has issued necessary direction to the jail authorities on 26th November 2020 to provide him straw and sipper.”
NIA stated that when Stan Swamy’s personal search was undertaken in presence of two independent witnesses no such straw or sipper was found on him as claimed by him.
The NIA informed that since the accused was placed under judicial custody at Taloja prison near Navi Mumbai, the matter rested between him and the jail authorities who fall under the jurisdiction of the Maharashtra State Administration.
“The reports claiming that NIA recovered straw and sipper from accused Stan Swamy and sought 20 days from the court to respond to Stan Swamy’’s plea to allow him a straw and sipper in Taloja Central Jail, are false, incorrect and mischievous as NIA neither recovered any straw and sipper from the accused nor sought 20 days to file a reply in said application,” it emphasised.
Stan Swamy provided medical facilities till last
Earlier in May, National Human Rights Commission asked Maharashtra government to ensure every possible medical treatment for him. After he contracted COVID-19 infection, he was shifted to Holy Family hospital in Bandra in May. On Sunday, after his health faltered, the NHRC again wrote to Maharashtra government to ensure proper medical treatment to him. However, after suffering cardiac arrest on Saturday, he was put on ventilator on Sunday and he breathed his last on July 5th.