Stan Swamy, 84, friend of the downtrodden, dies in custody

IANS & iNDICA NEWS BUREAU

Ailing octogenarian tribal rights activist Father Stan Swamy died in custody on Monday afternoon awaiting bail on medical grounds.

The 84-year-old Jesuit priest and activist was under arrest as an accused in the Bhima-Koregoan case. He contracted Covid-19 in custody.

When his bail plea came up before Justice SS Shinde and Justice NJ Jamdar at the Bombay High Court, Swamy’s Senior Advocate Mihir Desai told the court that Father Swamy had died.

“It’s with a very heavy heart I have to inform you that Fr. Stan Swamy has passed away,” Dr Stanislaus D’Souza, the doctor treating Swamy at a private hospital, informed the court.

He added that early on Saturday, the 84-year-old activist — hailing from Trichy in Tamil Nadu — had suffered a cardiac arrest and could not be revived.

 

Shortly afterwards, the Jesuit Provincial of India said in a statement: “With a deep sense of pain, anguish and hope, we have surrendered Fr. Stan Swamy, 84, to his eternal abode.”

It said that Swamy’s mission was to work among the Adivasis, Dalits, and other marginalized communities so that the poor may have life and live to the full, with dignity and honor.

“On behalf of the Jesuits of India, especially the Jesuits of Jamshedpur Jesuit Province, I express my deepest condolence to the family members, friends, lawyers, well-wishers, and all those who stood by Fr. Stan and prayed for him during this moment of trial and suffering,” said the statement.

Swamy was arrested in October 2020 by the National Investigation Agency in connection with his alleged role in the January 1, 2018 Koregaon-Bhima caste violence in Pune, and related issues which rocked the state and national politics.