A good quality sipper tumbler can be had for a princely sum of under two hundred rupees. For someone with shaking hands, it is a lifeline, to be able to drink water without spilling, perhaps even take some milk, to help combat dehydration, which can be fatal in the elderly. However, the nation’s premier National Investigation Agency (NIA) has told the courts that it does not have a straw-sipper to give to 83-year-old undertrail Fr Stan Swamy who was arrested in October.
For 20 days now, Stan Swamy, who lives with Parkinsons has been requesting a straw- sipper to be able to drink water. Now he has to depend on the kindness of fellow inmates to help him drink from a cup sipper meant for babies.
Earlier this month, it was widely reported that the NIA sought 20 days’ time to respond to Fr Swamy’s urgent request for the utensil which he urgently needs as a Parkinson’s Disease patient. Father Stan Swamy, is a tribal rights activist who has led a simple life. And being able to drink water without spilling is a basic need that he hopes is met, even as he waits trial in the case where NIA has alleged his involvement in the Bhima-Koregaon violence.
He will have to wait for another week or so for the government agency to find him a straw and a sipper cup, and some winter clothes. He would have been in jail for nearly two months by then. According to news reports, the NIA has filed a reply on Fr Swamy’s petition seeking the “return of the straw and sipper confiscated during his arrest”. The NIA has stated to a special court in Pune that they did not take the utensil. “Stan Swamy was never taken to NIA custody so we never had any of his belongings. He was sent to judicial custody straight away so he has to request to jail authorities. We are not aware if he has made same request to jail authorities,” an NIA official told NDTV, requesting not to be named.
According to news reports, the special court rejected Father Stan Swamy’s application, and the activist has moved a fresh application seeking permission to use a straw and a sipper and winter clothes inside the jail. The court has sought the response of the jail authorities and adjourned the matter till December 4, stated the report. Late last month a special NIA court had rejected Mr Swamy’s bail application, filed on medical grounds, declaring that the octogenarian had been booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and was therefore not allowed bail.
News reports state that the medical plea was sought on the grounds that apart from suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, Fr Swamy has almost lost hearing in both ears, has fallen multiple times in jail, has pain in his lower abdomen. He is of advanced age, with comorbidities and therefore, needs to be protected from Covid-19. However, the court is stated to have recorded that, “the grounds pleaded by the applicant (Father Swamy) for grant of bail does not reveal that the medical treatment provided to the applicant in prison is not sufficient. On the contrary the applicant had submitted an application for giving directions to the jail authorities to provide him the required amenities.” News reports stated that the court also mentioned that the Superintendent of Taloja Central had said, “Since the applicant is old aged person, he has been lodged in the separate cell in the hospital/dispensary section. It does not speak even by stretch of imagination that the applicant is suffering from any illness for which the treatment is not available in the prison.”
The NIA which arrested Swamy from his residence in Ranchi on October 8, had earlier sought 20 days’ time to respond to his on November 6 request for the sipper. “I cannot hold a glass as my hands are unsteady due to Parkinson’s,” stated Swamy, who is at the Taloja Central Jail, and is currently in the prison hospital.
However, scores of kind citizens have responded, and began sharing on social media orders they have placed for sippers. Of all kinds, just so the eldery priest-activist can drink water safely.
I just shipped a Marvel Avengers sipper with straw to 83 yr old Father Stanley Swamy c/o Superintendent, Taloja Jail, Kharghar, Navi Mumbai 410210. Join me and#SendASipperForStanSwamy RT for good karma. pic.twitter.com/F04wMXFlFa
— Vijay Sankaran (@vijaysankaran) November 8, 2020
— Brinda (@VasudevanBrinda) November 26, 2020
When the judiciary forgets the core reason for its existence of delivering justice, protecting citizens fundamental rights & upholding the Constitution, WE MUST REMIND IT TO DRINK WATER or else it will wither away & die. #ConstitutionDay #StanSwamy pic.twitter.com/w56dEfNXOq
— Raj Redij-Gill (@boredknees) November 26, 2020
Others called out NIA’s response and lack of sensitivity.
Hi! @NIA_India – How many Retweets to provide a Straw and Sipper to a 83 Year Old Man in Custody who is suffering from Parkinson’s and unable to drink water? Just tell a number and it will be done
— Joy (@Joydas) November 26, 2020
Fr. #StanSwamy, I found a sipper for you. @NIA_India, even prisoners of war during WWII were allowed to receive care packages. I’m happy to send this to Fr. Swamy post-haste. Please advise his mailing address. #SipperStraw4StanSwamy pic.twitter.com/W0z2m99qOl
— Pieter Friedrich (@FriedrichPieter) November 26, 2020
This is what NIA’s representation apparently said. Would anyone have access to the actual plea submitted in the court by Stan Swamy’s lawyer? It would be quite something if NIA can get away with such blatant lie, had the plea specifically asked for access to ‘a’ sipper ? pic.twitter.com/eyWcycqRyX
— Astral Fleck (@AstralFleck) November 26, 2020
Wait for straw, sipper gets longer for Stan Swamy, who has Parkinson’s disease and is in Jail ?? #indianjudiciary #india #indian #stanswamy #politicalprisonersinindia #indiangovernment #nia pic.twitter.com/7HPVA2bmXM
— PENCILASHAN (@pencilashan) November 26, 2020
Here is the time it has taken for the NIA to investigate the case of the missing sipper
November 26: Special NIA Judge D.E. Kothalikar, presiding over the case, directed the medical officer to reply to the requirement of a straw and sipper, along with winter clothes. The matter will now be heard on December 4.
November 6: Father Stan Swamy files an application seeking permission to allow him a straw and sipper in Taloja Central Jail as he cannot hold a glass because he has Parkinson’s Disease.
October 22: His medical bail is rejected, according to news reports, by the same judge who relied upon the directions of the high powered committee constituted to release undertrial prisoners during Covid-19 pandemic. In this case, the court said, “The accused (Father Swamy) is involved in commission of offence punishable under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act cannot be said to be entitled for interim bail.”
October 9: Brought to Mumbai by NIA, and remanded to judicial custody by court.
October 8: Father Stan Swamy is arrested from his home in Ranchi, at night, after hours of questioning by NIA.