Stan Swamy, the 83-year-old tribal rights activist who has been arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) inquiring into the Bhima Koregaon violence in Maharashtra in 2018, has been denied bail he had sought on health grounds.
Swamy, a Jesuit priest who was working for the rights of tribals in Jharkhand for decades, was arrested from his home in Ranchi on October 8. He was brought to Mumbai and has been lodged at the jail in Taloja in Navi Mumbai after being sent to judicial custody. He has been charged under the strict Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
Stan had moved an interim application in the special NIA court seeking bail saying that he suffered from age-related health problems.
The NIA has accused him of helping the banned Communist party of India (Maoist) raise funds for its activities and for being part of an alleged conspiracy to instigate unrest in Bhima Koregaon during a celebration to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle of Koregaon.
The agency said it found literature in support of the banned outfit at his home in Ranchi.
Advocate Sharif Shaikh, appearing on behalf of Swamy, told the court that the activist must be granted bail on humanitarian grounds. Swamy had undergone surgery just before his arrest and had fallen while he was in jail. Moreover, he suffered from Parkinson’s disease and he could not even sign legal documents before being produced in court. The documents had to be submitted with his thumb impresion, Shaikh said.
The agency, however, said it had sufficient evidence to prove his involvement in the conspiracy. It countered the bail application saying Swamy was trying to take undue advantage of the situation caused by COVID in an attempt to get out of jail.
The NIA, which took up the investigation in the case in January, has filed a charge sheet against Swamy and six other academics and activists — former IIT professor Anand Teltumde and his brother Milind Teltumbde, journalist and activist Gautam Navlakha and Delhi University associate professor Hany Babu, besides three members of the Kabir Kala Manch, a cultural group.
Milind Teltumbde is absconding. The NIA said he is an activist of CPI (Maoist).