Tribal rights activist and Jesuit priest Stan Swamy tested positive for the coronavirus infection after he was moved to a hospital, his friend and colleague Father Joseph Xavier said on Sunday.
Swamy, who is in custody in connection with the 2018 Bhima Koregaon case, is currently at the Holy Family Hospital in Mumbai. On Friday, the Bombay High Court had ordered Swamy to be moved to a hospital for 15 days.
Xavier told Scroll.in that 84-year-old Swamy’s health condition was stable. “He was admitted to the hospital on Friday,” he said. “The doctors were treating him and were doing some CT scan.”
He said that the activist was admitted to the intensive care unit after his condition deteriorated. “They [doctors] said we need to keep him [in the ICU] as he needs some oxygen,” Xavier said, adding that his condition is stable. The tests were conducted on Saturday and the results came back on Sunday, he said.
On May 21, Swamy had told the Bombay High Court that he did not want to be admitted to a hospital, instead urging the court to consider his request for interim bail. “I have been in deteriorating condition,” he said. “I would rather be in Ranchi. I do not think any of that [hospitalisation] is going to help.”
Swamy, who has several health problems including Parkinson’s disease, has been in jail since October.
However, as his health condition deteriorated, Swamy agreed to be admitted to a hospital after his lawyer Mihir Desai spoke to him through the counsel call facility, reported The Telegraph.
“We will press for the interim bail after the High Court reopens in June,” Desai told The Telegraph.
On Friday, the Bombay High Court had ordered the Maharashtra government to transfer Swamy to the Holy Family Hospital in Mumbai.
On May 19, the Bombay High Court had asked Taloja prison officials to send Swamy for another medical examination at Mumbai’s JJ Hospital. The court had asked the hospital to submit its report on May 21. The activist’s medical report said that he suffered from extreme hearing loss in both ears, and tremors. It also said that he needed a walking stick or a wheelchair. However, his overall condition was said to be stable.
The case against Swamy
Swamy was arrested on October 8 by the National Investigation Agency from Ranchi, Jharkhand, and brought to Mumbai the next day.
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 the Communist Party of India (Maoist) through various civil rights organisations he worked with.
In his bail plea in March, Swamy had said that he was being targeted by the NIA because of his writings and work related to caste and land struggles of the people.
The NIA claimed that it has sufficient evidence to prima facie prove that Swamy was involved in the conspiracy to instigate caste violence in the Bhima Koregaon village near Pune in 2018.
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.