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Citizens condemn Fr. Stan's institutional murder under UAPA

Individuals and groups carry forward Fr, Stan’s legacy and demand the release of all those arrested under the draconian UAPA law

Sabrangindia 09 Jul 2021

Image Courtesy:counterview.net

The death of Jharkhand’s tribal activist Father Stan Swamy sparked a slew of protests and charged memorials in the last week. Friends and family along with the Jesuits of India held a memorial meeting in the 84-year-old’s memory soon after his death.

However, the grief of what is popularly being called “institutional murder” continued, as people in Ranchi, Mumbai and other cities held rallies and meetings to condemn Fr. Stan’s death at the Holy Family hospital in Mumbai.

On July 9, 2021 the West Zone Jesuits announced another virtual meeting at 6 PM to remember Fr. Swamy, and to discuss the need to immediately release the rest of undertrial prisoners still suffering behind bars during an ongoing pandemic. Speakers such as human rights activist Teesta Setalvad, Goa Archbishop Felip Neri and others will address the group.

Ranchi

Prior to this on July 8, a silent resistance march was observed in Jamshedpur followed by a condolence meeting in Ranchi to decry the custodial death. Over 100 social activists, academics, trade union activists and tribal leaders participated and vehemently demanded the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) under which Fr. Stan was arrested.

Later, during the condolence meeting in Bagaicha, the social research centre at Namkum where Fr Stan lived, members of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and several human rights organisations resolved to submit a memorandum to Chief Minister Hemant Soren demanding the same. Attendees also agreed to month-long prayers in memory of Stan.

Similar condolence meetings took place all across the state and cities like Mangalore in Karnataka. In Ranchi, supporters also decided to gherao Raj Bhavan on July 15 to demand a judicial inquiry into Fr. Stan’s death among other demands.

It may be mentioned that on Friday, the Indian Express reported that the Maharashtra prison department confirmed a magisterial inquiry following the registration of an accidental death report as per procedure.

Mumbai

Meanwhile in Mumbai, dozens of people assembled outside the St Peter’s church holding banners that mourned Fr. Stan’s death and asked, “How many more deaths of Bhima Koregaon detainees?” While the group was small due to social distancing guidelines, many individuals attended the protest condemning the death in their individual capacities. According to Newslaundry, members of social activism organisations like the Bombay Catholic Sabha, Hum Bharat Ke Log, and Jamaat-E-Islami Hind also came to pray for the activist’s soul and light candles.

Similarly, the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice (JACSC) decried the NIA and demanded judicial acquittal of the Bhima Koregaon accused at the Chaityabhoomi in Dadar on Monday and Wednesday, said media reports.

According to the Times of India, the JACSC said Fr. Stan’s death should serve as a wake-up call for India’s criminal justice system. Students from IIT Bombay attended the event.

Student action

Similarly, the youth wing of Archdiocese of Bangalore on Wednesday organised a zoom meeting in Fr. Stan’s remembrance. Around 1,000 people also attended an in-person candle-lighting event.

Friends of Democracy also organised “Who Killed Stan Swamy? Repeal UAPA” virtual event on the same day where Setalvad spoke about the institutional murder and the urgent need to release undertrial prisoners during times of health crisis.

On Tuesday, the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) started an online petition addressed to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) N. V. Ramana demanding an inquiry into why Fr. Stan’s health worsened in the jail as it did. Further, they questioned why his bail application was repeatedly denied “despite his ill health and full cooperation with the investigation.”

Hunger strike for Fr. Stan

Not just free citizens but even the 10 people accused in the Bhima Koregaon case showed their anguish at the institutional murder. Fr. Stan repeatedly spoke of how he wished to spend his last moments with his family. Yet he died in custody.

According to NDTV, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde, Ramesh Gaichor and Sagar Gorkhe observed a one-day fast in the Taloja jail on Wednesday.

In a statement, they accused the NIA and the Taloja jail's former superintendent Kaustubh Kurlekar of constantly “harassing” Fr. Stan with “ghastly treatment” inside the jail, delay in transferring him from hospital to jail and protesting his possession of items like a sipper. Fr. Stan suffered from Parkinson’s disease.

Many such protests and meetings will also take place in the future. Notably, a “Jail Is The Rule: Bail Jurisprudence Under The UAPA” webinar is being organised by the Law and Society Committee on July 10 to discuss the legal status of ongoing detentions under the UAPA and contextualise recent developments in UAPA bail jurisprudence.

Related:

Jesuits of India, journalists and academics bid Fr Stan Swamy an emotional farewell
The institutional murder of Father Stan Swamy
Fr Stan Swamy’s death highlights the need to repeal UAPA
Bhima Koregaon: The Truth
Stone quarrying, development projects threatening Jharkhand’s sacred groves

Citizens condemn Fr. Stan's institutional murder under UAPA

Individuals and groups carry forward Fr, Stan’s legacy and demand the release of all those arrested under the draconian UAPA law

Image Courtesy:counterview.net

The death of Jharkhand’s tribal activist Father Stan Swamy sparked a slew of protests and charged memorials in the last week. Friends and family along with the Jesuits of India held a memorial meeting in the 84-year-old’s memory soon after his death.

However, the grief of what is popularly being called “institutional murder” continued, as people in Ranchi, Mumbai and other cities held rallies and meetings to condemn Fr. Stan’s death at the Holy Family hospital in Mumbai.

On July 9, 2021 the West Zone Jesuits announced another virtual meeting at 6 PM to remember Fr. Swamy, and to discuss the need to immediately release the rest of undertrial prisoners still suffering behind bars during an ongoing pandemic. Speakers such as human rights activist Teesta Setalvad, Goa Archbishop Felip Neri and others will address the group.

Ranchi

Prior to this on July 8, a silent resistance march was observed in Jamshedpur followed by a condolence meeting in Ranchi to decry the custodial death. Over 100 social activists, academics, trade union activists and tribal leaders participated and vehemently demanded the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) under which Fr. Stan was arrested.

Later, during the condolence meeting in Bagaicha, the social research centre at Namkum where Fr Stan lived, members of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha and several human rights organisations resolved to submit a memorandum to Chief Minister Hemant Soren demanding the same. Attendees also agreed to month-long prayers in memory of Stan.

Similar condolence meetings took place all across the state and cities like Mangalore in Karnataka. In Ranchi, supporters also decided to gherao Raj Bhavan on July 15 to demand a judicial inquiry into Fr. Stan’s death among other demands.

It may be mentioned that on Friday, the Indian Express reported that the Maharashtra prison department confirmed a magisterial inquiry following the registration of an accidental death report as per procedure.

Mumbai

Meanwhile in Mumbai, dozens of people assembled outside the St Peter’s church holding banners that mourned Fr. Stan’s death and asked, “How many more deaths of Bhima Koregaon detainees?” While the group was small due to social distancing guidelines, many individuals attended the protest condemning the death in their individual capacities. According to Newslaundry, members of social activism organisations like the Bombay Catholic Sabha, Hum Bharat Ke Log, and Jamaat-E-Islami Hind also came to pray for the activist’s soul and light candles.

Similarly, the Joint Action Committee for Social Justice (JACSC) decried the NIA and demanded judicial acquittal of the Bhima Koregaon accused at the Chaityabhoomi in Dadar on Monday and Wednesday, said media reports.

According to the Times of India, the JACSC said Fr. Stan’s death should serve as a wake-up call for India’s criminal justice system. Students from IIT Bombay attended the event.

Student action

Similarly, the youth wing of Archdiocese of Bangalore on Wednesday organised a zoom meeting in Fr. Stan’s remembrance. Around 1,000 people also attended an in-person candle-lighting event.

Friends of Democracy also organised “Who Killed Stan Swamy? Repeal UAPA” virtual event on the same day where Setalvad spoke about the institutional murder and the urgent need to release undertrial prisoners during times of health crisis.

On Tuesday, the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union (JNUSU) started an online petition addressed to the Chief Justice of India (CJI) N. V. Ramana demanding an inquiry into why Fr. Stan’s health worsened in the jail as it did. Further, they questioned why his bail application was repeatedly denied “despite his ill health and full cooperation with the investigation.”

Hunger strike for Fr. Stan

Not just free citizens but even the 10 people accused in the Bhima Koregaon case showed their anguish at the institutional murder. Fr. Stan repeatedly spoke of how he wished to spend his last moments with his family. Yet he died in custody.

According to NDTV, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde, Ramesh Gaichor and Sagar Gorkhe observed a one-day fast in the Taloja jail on Wednesday.

In a statement, they accused the NIA and the Taloja jail's former superintendent Kaustubh Kurlekar of constantly “harassing” Fr. Stan with “ghastly treatment” inside the jail, delay in transferring him from hospital to jail and protesting his possession of items like a sipper. Fr. Stan suffered from Parkinson’s disease.

Many such protests and meetings will also take place in the future. Notably, a “Jail Is The Rule: Bail Jurisprudence Under The UAPA” webinar is being organised by the Law and Society Committee on July 10 to discuss the legal status of ongoing detentions under the UAPA and contextualise recent developments in UAPA bail jurisprudence.

Related:

Jesuits of India, journalists and academics bid Fr Stan Swamy an emotional farewell
The institutional murder of Father Stan Swamy
Fr Stan Swamy’s death highlights the need to repeal UAPA
Bhima Koregaon: The Truth
Stone quarrying, development projects threatening Jharkhand’s sacred groves

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