Barbel Kofler, the German commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Assistance, has expressed concern about the health of tribal rights activist Stan Swamy and sought his release on humanitarian grounds. The 84-year-old activist, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, has been in custody since October in connection with the 2018 Bhima Koregaon case.

“Worried about reports on the deteriorating health of Father Stan Swamy who is a strong advocate of tribal rights in India in detention since October,” she tweeted on Tuesday. “Given his age and health condition, I urgently appeal to the relevant authorities to consider his release on humanitarian grounds!”

The German Embassy in India retweeted her appeal on Thursday.

Last week, Swamy’s health condition had deteriorated and he was shifted to Holy Family Hospital in Mumbai. He had also tested positive for the coronavirus infection. This came after, on May 28, the Bombay High Court had ordered Swamy to be moved to a hospital for 15 days.

On May 19, the Bombay High Court had asked Taloja prison officials to send Swamy for a 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 then.

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.”

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.

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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.