Leaders of 10 opposition parties on Tuesday (July 6) wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind seeking his intervention in holding accountable those responsible for “foisting false cases” on tribal rights activist Father Stan Swamy, his continued detention in jail and “inhuman treatment” allegedly meted out to him.
The letter comes a day after Father Stan Swamy died at a Mumbai hospital during treatment. The signatories include Congress president Sonia Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin. Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren (JMM), former prime minister and JDS leader HD Deve Gowda and NC leader Farooq Abdullah, RJDs Tejashwi Yadav, D Raja (CPI) and Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) have also signed the letter.
“We the undersigned leaders of major opposition parties are writing to you in deep anguish expressing our intense grief and outrage at the death of Father Stan Swamy under custody,” they said in their letter to the president.
UN, EU call Swamy’s death ‘devastating’
Jesuit priest and activist Stan Swamy’s death in police detention has drawn the attention of human rights wings of United Nations and European Union, who called the 84-year-old activist’s death as “devastating” and said he was imprisoned on “false charges”.
“The news from India today is devastating. Human Rights Defender and Jesuit priest Fr. Stan Swamy has did in custody, nine months after his arrest on false charges of terrorism. Jailing Human Rights Defenders is inexcusable,” said Mary Lawlor, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders.
European Union Special Representative for Human Rights Eamon Gilmore tagged Lawlor’s tweet to say: “India: I am very saddened to hear that Fr #StanSwamy has passed away. A defender of indigenous peoples’ rights. He was held in detention for the past nine months. The EU had been raising his case repeatedly with authorities.”
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had arrested Swamy in October last year under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in connection with the Elgar Parishad case of Pune. The Pune police had then contended that some activists had made inflammatory speeches at Shaniwarwada in Pune, a day before violence at the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial located on the outskirts of Pune city on December 31, 2017.
(With inputs from agencies)