The National Human Rights Commission on Sunday issued a notice to the Maharashtra government, noting the worsening health condition of tribal rights activist Stan Swamy. He had been in jail for nine months in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case.

The 84-year-old activist, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, was put on ventilator support on Sunday morning at the Holy Family Hospital in Mumbai. In May, Swamy had tested positive for Covid-19 after being shifted to the hospital on the Bombay High Court’s orders. The court had later extended his hospital stay till July 5 as he needed extensive care.

The NHRC notice on Sunday directed the Maharashtra government to ensure that all possible efforts were made to provide healthcare facilities to him “as part of life saving measure[s] and protection of his basic human rights”.

The human rights commission also sought a report on allegations against the Taloja jail authorities over the treatment provided to Swamy. The commission asked for the report to be filed within four weeks.

“Earlier, the commission had received a complaint on 16th May, 2021 that FR [Father] Stan Swamy (aged 84 years), lodged in Taloja Central Jail, Navi Mumbai was being denied medical facility during the Covid-19 period,” the notice said. “It was also alleged that he had not been vaccinated yet and that there was no proper medical care in the jail hospital.”

The complaint to the human rights commission also said that most of the jail staff had tested positive for Covid-19. “Number of under-trial prisoners had also contracted the coronavirus and no RT-PCR tests were conducted there [in the jail],” the notice read.

The case against Swamy

Swamy was arrested on October 8 by the National Investigation Agency from Ranchi, and brought to Mumbai the next day.

The activist has been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and terror-related offences of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The National Investigation Agency has claimed that Swamy had helped the cause of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) through various civil rights organisations he worked with.

On July 3, Swamy moved the Bombay High Court challenging a section of the anti-terror law that bars granting of bail to an accused if the court finds that the allegations against them are prima facie true.

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.

Also read:

  1. Violating the rights of older persons: Why Stan Swamy’s continued detention is so unjust
  2. Stan Swamy case shows why bail on medical grounds remains highly discretionary