Saturday 29 January 2022
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Stan Swamy, Maoist in jail for Elgar Parishad-engineered riot, dead

Jailed on a charge of sedition, Stan Swamy was on ventilator support at the Holi Family Hospital in Mumbai after his health condition had deteriorated

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The Christian communist extremist and accused of engineering a riot under the aegis of Elgar Parishad, Stan Swamy, died today after a prolonged illness. He was 84.

Stan Swamy was on ventilator support at the Holi Family Hospital in Mumbai after his health condition had deteriorated. The Jesuit priest had suffered a cardiac arrest on Saturday and never regained consciousness. He passed away around 1.24 PM today.

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had on Sunday issued a notice to the Maharashtra government in the wake of a complaint alleging the serious health condition of the imprisoned activist.

In the notice sent through the state’s chief secretary, the NHRC called upon him to ensure every possible effort is made to provide proper medical care and treatment to Swamy as part of a life-saving measure and protection of his basic human rights.

Stan Swamy and his co-accused in the Elgar case have repeatedly complained of inadequate health facilities at the Taloja prison in neighbouring Navi Mumbai, where they were lodged as undertrials.

The case of the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence or Elgar Parishad-engineered riot refers to the mayhem during an annual celebratory gathering on 1 January 2018 at Bhima Koregaon to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon when members of what is known as the Scheduled Caste in independent India had sided with the British forces and against Peshwa Brahmins during the nation’s freedom struggle.

The violence and stone-pelting by anti-social elements on the gathering resulted in the death of a 28-year old youth and injury to five others. The annual celebration, also called the Elgar Parishad convention, was organised by retired Justices BG Kolse Patil and PB Sawant. Justice Sawant claimed that the term “Elgar” meant loud invitation or loud declaration.

In October 2020, the National Investigation Agency had released a 10,000-page charge sheet regarding the incident with fresh names, including Fr Stan Swamy, a Jesuit priest, who the NIA accused of conspiring to bring together Dalit and Muslim forces to take on what he referred to as the “fascist government” at the Centre. The NIA accused him also of being connected to the banned left-wing terrorist organisation, CPI (Maoist).

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