Kolkata has planned a march on October 17, 2020 to show solidarity with Father Stan Swamy and demand his release from jail, said a Telegraph India report.
The protest organised by the Mother Teresa International Award Committee, a secular body started in 2001, will be led by St Xavier’s University Vice-Chancellor Father J. Felix Raj. The participants will start the march from the college located at Park Street and halt in front of the Mother Teresa statue at Park Street-Camac Street crossing.
Fr. Felix Raj said that this will be the first solidarity in the city, adding that the “march is irrespective of religion, irrespective of political affiliation.” Although invitations have been sent out to various churches, the organisers intend to assemble not more than 50 people at the spot, adhering to the social distancing norms.
Fr. Felix Raj said the intention of the protest was to express solidarity in spirit and not in numbers. He hoped that the march would grow in power and spread to other places for many more days. Moreover, he said churches would also be asked to hold independent protests following the Saturday march to show support for the 83-year-old Jesuit priest and activist.
The Award Committee Chairman Anthony Arun Biswas, said it would be a peaceful procession to denounce Swamy’s arrest in Ranchi on October 8 from where he was taken to Mumbai for judicial custody till October 23.
“Fr Stan Swamy is someone who has been serving the poorest of the poor and we protest against this injustice of keeping him in jail in an unjust way. We demand his immediate release,” said Biswas whose organisation has been handing out awards to distinguished people from across the world in fields like education, social work, sports and culture.
Adding to this, Fr. Felix Raj said he wanted to change the government’s attitude of arresting and putting senior citizens in jail.
“India is a country where senior citizens are respected and there should be a compassionate, concerned approach for them. If the police think there is something they should investigate. But be more compassionate. Not only this Jesuit father but all senior citizens should be treated with compassion,” he said in the report.
Fr Felix Raj had also written to the Prime Minister asking for the release of Fr Stan Swamy. Earlier, he had written in Telegraph India that the arrest was politically motivated. To him, the Jesuit priest was simply sharing the sufferings of Christ for the sake of justice and truth. Thus, he called for all academicians, thinkers, philosophers, theologians and others to speak out against the arrest of activists.