Ten Opposition leaders on Tuesday wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind demanding action against those responsible for foisting false cases on tribal rights activist Stan Swamy, ANI reported.
This included Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren and his counterparts in West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, Mamata Banerjee and MK Stalin.
Swamy, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease and also contracted the coronavirus infection while in prison in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence case, died in a Mumbai hospital on Monday. Swamy was the oldest of a dozen people, most of them academics and human rights activists, jailed under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in the case without any reliable evidence.
On May 21, the Jesuit priest urged the Bombay High Court that he be allowed to go back to Ranchi, his home town, as his condition had deteriorated to a point that he could not even do basic tasks like eating and bathing by himself. He was put on ventilator support after suffering a cardiac arrest on Sunday.
In their letter to the president, the ten Opposition leaders expressed their deep anguish and outrage after Swamy’s death.
“We are urging your immediate intervention as the President of India to direct ‘your government’ to act against those responsible for foisting false cases on him [Stan Swamy], his continued detention in jail and inhuman treatment,” the letter read. “They must be held accountable. It is now incumbent that all those jailed in the Bhima Koregaon case and other detenues under politically motivated cases, misusing draconian laws like UAPA, sedition etc, be released forthwith.”
The leaders said the activist had been imprisoned under “trumped up charges” and denied treatment for his ailments, including Parkinson’s disease. They also mentioned that Swamy had to seek permission from a court in November 2020 for using a straw and sipper. The court had agreed after nearly three weeks.
The letter, also signed by former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, National Conference chief Farooq Abdullah, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejaswi Yadav, Communist Party of India (Marxist) General Secretary Sitaram Yechury and his CPI counterpart D Raja, said numerous appeals were made to shift Swamy out of the overcrowded Taloja Jail.
Only after the intervention of the Bombay High Court, the 84-year-old activist was admitted to a private hospital, where his condition started deteriorating after he was infected with Covid-19. According to the Opposition leaders, this step came too late to prevent his death in custody.
The family and friends of those arrested in the case have said Swamy’s death was an “institutional murder”. Members of the civil society have also said the Modi government wanted to “make an example out of him” and those arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case.
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.