A group of lawyers has sent sippers and straws to jailed activist Stan Swamy at Mumbai’s Taloja prison and urged the authorities to allow him to drink water with dignity, Live Law reported on Saturday.
The 83-year-old activist, arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case, has Parkinson’s disease and cannot hold a tumbler. On November 6, he had made a request for sipper and straw before a special court. The hearing of his request was scheduled 20 days later as prosecution sought time. The matter was heard on November 26 when the National Investigation Agency told the court that it did not confiscate Swamy’s straw and sipper when he was arrested.
A new petition seeking a straw, sipper and winter clothes was filed. The fresh plea will be heard on December 4.
The lawyers who sent the urgent supplies to Swamy said that the conditions of a person’s detention must be humane. “To that effect we urge you to make arrangements for all inmates as per the jail manual who have special medical needs,” they wrote in a letter to the superintendent of the prison in Navi Mumbai.
They added: “For Father Stan Swamy, we urge you to facilitate his dignified drinking of water, we are sending this plastic Sipper and paper straws, which we believe are permissible as per the Jail Manual and cannot cause any harm.”
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A huge campaign has also begun on social media to send sippers and straws to Swamy. Several citizens and groups were shocked by the National Investigation Agency asking the special court to give it 20 days to respond to Swamy’s request for a sipper and winter clothes.
Swamy was arrested by the NIA in Ranchi on October 8 and was brought to Mumbai the next day. He was accused of being a member of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) and being involved in a conspiracy to instigate caste violence in the Bhima Koregaon village near Pune in 2018.
Several organisations and citizens have called for Swamy’s release. This includes the All India Catholic Union and the North East Catholic Research Forum. In a statement, the All India Catholic Union said Swamy’s arrest seems to be an attempt to stifle dissent in India. The North East Catholic Research Forum said that it was “shocked and saddened” by his arrest. It called Swamy’s arrest “selective targeting”.
Swamy is not the only undertrial in the Bhima Koregaon case with a serious medical condition. Telugu poet Varavara Rao’s health is also critical. On November 18, the Bombay High Court had directed Taloja jail authorities to shift him to Nanavati Hospital for 15 days, saying that he was almost on his deathbed.
The NIA took over the investigation in the Bhima Koregaon case from the Pune Police in January. All the accused in the case are booked for allegedly delivering inflammatory speeches at the Elgar Parishad conclave at Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which triggered violence at the Bhima Koregaon war memorial on January 1, 2018.