Today, at around 7:15 am, an eight-member team of the Maharashtra police once again raided the Bagaicha campus in Namkum near Ranchi, the residence of 83-year old Stan Swamy, a well-known activist of Jharkhand. The police searched Stan Swamy’s belongings for about 3.5 hours. They seized Stan Swamy’s hard disk and internet modem and forced him to give his email and Facebook passwords. Thereafter, they changed the passwords and seized these accounts. The Maharashtra police had raided Stan Swamy’s residence last year as well on August 28, 2018 as well.
Stan Swamy works for the rights of Adivasis and other underprivileged groups in the state. Among other issues, he works on displacement, corporate loot of resources, the condition of undertrials and PESA. He has been a vocal critic of the government’s attempts to amend land laws and the land acquisition act in Jharkhand, and a strong advocate of the Forest Rights Act, PESA and related laws. Known as is an exceptionally gentle, honest and public-spirited person, this repeated targeting iof him has shocked many.
The central government and media houses close to the BJP claim that the human rights activists were part of a Maoist conspiracy related to the Bhima-Koregaon incident. This concocted story seems to be part of a larger propaganda, based on terms like “urban naxals”, aimed at stifling any criticism of the government. The raids and arrests are part of the government’s growing attempts to stifle dissent and intimidate those who are fighting for justice.
Activists have demanded an immediate end to the raids, dropping of all false charges against human rights activists across the country and release of those who are arrested. They have also alleged that these harassments are politically motivated and wholly unjustified.
Fr. Stan Swamy: The Jharkhand Priest who made People his Religion Human Rights Defender Profile