Tribal rights activist Stan Swamy, who is in custody in connection with the 2018 Bhima Koregaon case, was not shifted to a hospital on Tuesday, his colleague told Scroll.in. The 83-year-old’s health had deteriorated and the Jesuits, the Catholic religious order to which he belongs, had appealed to the Maharashtra government seeking medical attention for the activist.
The Jesuit priest’s friend and colleague Joseph Xavier told Scroll.in that Swamy was taken to a hospital at 4.45 pm on Tuesday but brought back to jail before midnight. “He was put through some preliminary tests, not for Covid, but for other conditions like Parkinson’s, fever, stomach upset,” said Xavier. “The case comes up for hearing today [Wednesday] and we are told the prosecution will submit his medical report.”
The Bombay High Court is likely to hear Swamy’s medical bail plea on Wednesday, PTI reported. His counsel Mihir Desai has submitted a note to the court detailing the lack of medical aid at the Taloja prison, the lack of physical distancing at the facility and and Swamy’s health condition.
On Swamy’s health condition, Xavier said that he was able to walk but felt very weak before being taken to the hospital.
On Tuesday, Swamy was vaccinated for coronavirus in the jail despite being unwell and weak, Scroll.in was told by a person familiar with the matter.
Earlier, Xavier, after speaking to Swamy on May 14, had said that the activist was suffering from a cough, fever and had a bad stomach, The Hindu reported on Saturday. “Father Stan told me that he was given antibiotics, but he was very weak,” Xavier said. “The situation inside Taloja prison is not good, with Covid-19 cases rising.”
Last week, families and friends of activists arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case had written to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, urging the immediate release of the undertrials in light of the threats to their life and health posted by the devastating second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Thursday, Delhi University Professor Hany Babu, an undertrial prisoner in the same case, was admitted to the JJ Hospital after he tested positive for coronavirus. Babu also had an acute eye infection, which his family said, could spread to his brain.
Swamy was arrested on October 8 by the National Investigation Agency from Ranchi, Jharkhand, and brought to Mumbai the next day. He suffers from multiple ailments and has fallen down in the jail several times.
The NIA has alleged that the 83-year-old priest is a member of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) and was involved in a conspiracy to instigate caste violence in the Bhima Koregaon village near Pune in 2018. In April, he had moved the Bombay High Court challenging the rejection of two of his bail pleas by a special National Investigation Court.
Swamy has been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and terror-related offences of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for allegedly furthering the cause of Communist Party of India (Maoist) through various civil rights organisations he worked with.
In his March bail plea, Swamy had alleged that he was being targeted by the central agency because of his writings and work related to caste and land struggles of the people of India and violation of democratic rights of the marginalised citizens of the country.
The NIA has, however, claimed that it has sufficient evidence to prima facie prove that Swamy was involved in the conspiracy and was directly involved in the Naxalite movement.
Several activists and academics have been accused of making inflammatory speeches at the Elgar Parishad conclave held at Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the authorities claim triggered violence at Bhima-Koregaon war memorial the next day.