The excruciating, slow-motion, custodial murder of 84-year-old Father Stan Swamy, a Jesuit priest who spent decades of his life in the service of India’s dispossessed, took place in the show window of our democracy. Our judiciary, police, intelligence services, and prison system are responsible. Our mainstream media too. All of them were aware of the case, and of his failing health. And yet he continued to be ground down.
This gentle, frail yet tremendous man died as a co-accused, one of 16, in what the state calls the Bhima Koregaon conspiracy. Forensic analysis of computer hard disks as reported by the Washington Post has revealed that the prize evidence that allows the agencies to spin the story of a conspiracy was planted by malware in the computer of Rona Wilson, one of the co-accused. That report was buried by the mainstream Indian media as well as the courts.
On Tuesday, a day after Father Stan’s death, the Post reports that a second co-accused, Surendra Gadling, also had evidence planted in his computer. But we have a law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which allows our government to continue to incarcerate the accused – the best of India’s lawyers, intellectuals and activists – almost indefinitely, until they die of ill health or their lives are destroyed by years in prison.
The UAPA is not being misused. It has been drafted for exactly this.
The slow murder of Father Stan Swamy is a microcosm of the not-so slow-murder of everything that allows us to call ourself a democracy. We are ruled by fiends. They have put a curse upon this land.
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