Bhima Koregaon Case: NIA Arrests 83-Year-Old Social Activist Father Stan Swamy from Ranchi
File photo of activist Stan Swamy.
Facing criticism over the arrest of 83-year-old tribal rights activist Stan Swamy, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) has alleged that the Jesuit priest is an active member of CPI Maoist. Though the agency is yet to release an official statement on the arrest of Swamy from Ranchi, officials told News18 that the priest was part of “Maoist conspiracy” in the Elgar Parishad case.
"Stan Swamy is a member of CPI (Maoist) and actively involved in its activities. He also received funds through an associate for furtherance of the CPI (Maoist) activities," an officer said.
Swamy is a convener of Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee (PPSC), which the NIA has called a frontal organization of CPI (Maoist).
The agency had questioned Swamy in connection with the case in August this year. On Wednesday, his residence at Bagaicha social centre was raided. Officials said “incriminating documents" were recovered during the search. "The documents related to communications for furthering the activities of CPI (Maoist) and propaganda material of the CPI (Maoist) and literature were seized from his possession," an NIA official told news18.
He has also been accused of being in touch with other accused in the Elgar Parishad case. "He was found to be in contact with some of the conspirators namely Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Hany Babu, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde etc. for the furtherance of its activities," the official added.
People’s Union for Civil Liberties has slammed the arrest and the charges, and demanded immediate release of Stan Swamy. In a statement released on Thursday, the NGO said, "The arrest of Fr. Stan by the NIA is malicious and spiteful as Fr. Stan has consistently denied any link with extremist leftist forces or Maoists. He had also clearly told the NIA that some so called extracts allegedly taken from his computer shown to him by the NIA were fake and fabricated and that he disowned them. What also exposes the NIA action as motivated is revealed by the fact that in October, 2018, the police told the Bombay HC that Fr. Stan was only a suspect and not an accused."
Just got news that the NIA has forcibly taken Octogenarian Father Stan Swamy from his ashram at Ranchi. It would be difficult to imagine a gentler & kinder person. It is the sign of the venality of the NIA that they are trying to implicate him under UAPA!— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) October 8, 2020
Listen to Stan Swamy’s video in this story; his dignity and courage in the face of state persecution is deeply moving. https://t.co/J75xHN1kYe— Ramachandra Guha (@Ram_Guha) October 9, 2020
Stan Swamy will be produced in a Mumbai court by the NIA. In 2018, a police team from Maharashtra had raided Swamy's residence and seized his computer in connection with the probe into the Bhima-Koregaon case.
The case relates to an Elgar Parishad event of December 31, 2017, organised by the Kabir Kala Manch at Shaniwarwada in Pune, where alleged provocative speeches were made, promoting enmity between various caste groups and leading to violence resulting in loss of life and property and statewide agitation in Maharashtra.
During the investigation, it was revealed that senior leaders of the CPI (Maoist), a banned organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, were in contact with the organisers of Elgar Parishad as well as the accused arrested in the case to spread the ideology of Maoism/Naxalism and encourage unlawful activities, an earlier PTI report quoted an NIA official as saying.
The Pune police filed a charge sheet and a supplementary charge sheet in the case on November 15, 2018 and February 21, 2019, respectively. The NIA took up the investigation of the case on January 24 this year.