Call Out For Justice and Humaneness: An Analysis Of Stan Swamy’s Death That Arose Shocking Reaction

Author: Priyadarshini Goenka Student, National Law University, Odisha


“I would just add that what is happening to me is not unique. Many activists, lawyers, writers, journalists, student leaders, poets, intellectuals and others who stand for the rights of Adivasis, Dalits and the marginalized and express their dissent to the ruling powers of the country are being targeted,” stated Stan Swamy.

Stan Swamy is known for his activism for tribal rights especially in the case of Elgar Parishad the previous year, and eventually took his last breath in a private hospital on a Monday in Mumbai. He was 84 years when he had been hospitalized following the guidelines stated by the High Court of Bombay on 30th May. Later, he was shifted to a ventilator support after which his lawyers approached the Court demanding an imperative hearing based on his medical bail plea.

Who Exactly Was Stan Swamy And What Kind Of Work Did He Engage In?

The Jesuit Priest is known for his renowned work based in the state of Jharkhand. He had been working over a period of three decades on issues associated with adivasi communities on relevant matters of land usage, forests and labor rights which also included extensive questioning on the non-implementation of a specific Tribes Advisory Council that comprised of members primarily responsible for the above communities aiming for their fortification, wellbeing and progresses taking place in the state.

In an explicit statement that came to our vision especially before the NIA that subsequently kept Swamy in their custody. Throughout his life he tried defining “indiscriminate” forms of arrest of both young Adivasis and moolvasis with agencies that lend a helping hand in the process of investigation.

A PIL was eventually preferred by him which was filed in the Jharkhand High Court against the State wherein he demanded the release of undertrial prisoners who should be released as per the individual bond and the demeanor of a speedy trial process. Additionally, his work involved the opening of different “land banks” wherein it was argued that he would help free up land belonging to communities that help operate both small and large industries. His statement speculated an articulating dissent with many policies concentrated on the part of the government and relevant commandments that are enacted in defilement of the supreme document termed as the constitution.

Why Did The NIA Decide To Take Him In Their Custody?

It initiated the entire process of investigational by itself expressly the case of Elgar Parishad/ Bhima Koregaon wherein he was alleged of having an association with the banned CPI (Maoist). Rests of similar nature were made in his case since 2018. Until then as many as 16 people were put behind bars, including Sudha Bharadwaj well-known activism and lawyer who worked with various communities living in the state of Chhattisgarh, Nagpur oriented lawyer Surendra Gadling; Delhi University associate professor Hany Babu and three members who belonged to the social group known as Kabir Kala Manch.

They arrested Swamy from the state of Ranchi on 7th October the previous year and later transferred him to Mumbai. The NIA had no strategized plans to seek his custody after which he was sent to judicial custody until 23rd October. It also put forward accusations in form of supplementary charge sheets along with seven other members.

He was consistently questioned by the NIA in several stances which even included the Jesuit residence in Bagaicha. There had been frequent searches conducted at his residence that claimed he had links to Maoist forces and was actively participating in its activities. The NI even accused him of being a known convenor of Persecuted Prisoners Committee (PPSC) which acts as a Frontal organization under the domain of CPI (Maoist). He constantly denied having any form of external links and addressed the fact that he had never been to Bhima Koregaon. [1]

Various Activists, Opposition Call Out The ‘Custodial Murderer’ Of Stan Swamy

The recent news dealing with the death of the 84-year-old activity sparked a horrific public reaction that ranged from social media platforms to political leaders, activists, reporters, intellects, and others. It was reported that he died suffering a sudden cardiac arrest on a Monday morning. Different parties and their oppositional leaders called out the “inhuman treatment” being unacceptable for the Indian society and its people. Rights activist Shabnam Hashmi identified his death as murder and held the government accountable. She shared her tweet expressing it not being but a custodial murder and held the government equally responsible for such mishaps.

The media platform was flooded with tweets coming from eminent personalities who were deeply saddened by the demise of Swamy. Additionally, people which included Kerala’s Chief Minister Pinaryi Vijayan, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Shashi Tharoor, and Jharkhand’s CM Hemant Soren made similar tweets in which they demanded justice for the treatment he was exposed to.

Another news in which Eamon Gilmore, the known European Union’s Special Representative dealing in Human Rights, and Mary Lowlor, a United Nations Special Rapporteur working as human rights defenders also exhibited their sorrow over his death newscast.

The Elgar Parishad case, in general, was linked with inflammatory speeches that were put forward by many activists at an event held in Pune on 31st December 2017 wherein the police themselves claimed that such public opinion stipulated extreme form of violence the following day near the Koregaon- Bhima war memorial that was situated in the bounds of Maharashtra. Swamy had repeatedly waited for interim bail on grounds of medical issues which resulted in further complexities in health one of which was Parkinson’s. [2]

Repeated Infringements In The Rights Of Older Persons: Why Was Stan Swamy Projected To Continued Detention

An activist operates under his age and health conditions and if detained should only be, in the four corners of his home.

On 28th May the charismatic Stan Swamy was transferred to Mumbai’s Holy Family Hospital for ensuring proper medical treatment as per the guidelines stated by Bombay HC. Moreover, the fact that he was kept in Taloja Jail for seven months along with 15 others was still residing in the minds of people.

Older in nature and suffering with serious comorbidities made him suffer immensely in terms of health issues as identified under Article 12 of the  International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the right to live with one’s dignity recognized under Article 6 of the statute- International Convention on Civil and Political Rights including the standards mentioned under the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, (also recognized as the Nelson Mandela Rules).

The surfacing events bear nothing of his trial and his co-accusation that began in the initial period which even brought to our vision that the state showed no interest in beginning his trial. The consistent emphasis lays on the moral fact that in both international and Indian law any person detained should not lose his right to health and live with dignity on imprisonment.

Furthermore, the General Assembly Resolution of 45/111 that was enacted on December 14th, 1990 proclaimed the basic principles aiming at the proper treatment of prisoners, interalia that extended to their right to health definite in international law in particular cases dealing with prisoners that uphold they intend to have better access to health services in their country of origin without being exposed to any form of discrimination based on their legal situation. [3]

[1] Explained: Who was Stan Swamy, arrested in the Elgar Parishad case, who passed away on Monday?, Explained Desk, ( July 6 2021), The Indian Express, https://indianexpress.com/article/explained/who-was-stan-swamy-6717126/.

[2] Activists, opposition call out ‘custodial murder’ of Stan Swamy, Deepali Sharma, ( July 5 2021), INDIA NEWS, https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/activists-opposition-call-out-custodial-murder-of-stan-swamy-101625494111357.html.

[3] Violating the rights of older persons: Why Stan Swamy’s continued detention is so unjust, Arvind Narrain, ( June 10 2021), fcroll.in, https://scroll.in/article/996838/violating-the-rights-of-older-persons-why-stan-swamys-continued-detention-is-so-unjust.


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