Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist Father Stan Swamy, 84, who was arrested in connection with the Elgar Parishad case and the Bhima Koregaon caste violence, passed away on July 5.
Swamy reportedly died of cardiac arrest ahead of his bail plea hearing, the deceased activist's counsel informed the Bombay High Court on Monday.
A patient of Parkinson's disease and bilateral hearing loss, Fr Swamy has been languishing in jail since October 2020. He was shifted to a private hospital in May 2021, after his health condition worsened.
He had contracted COVID-19 earlier this year. Though Fr Swamy recovered from the disease, he continued to suffer from post-COVID complications. According to a News18 report, Stan Swamy had to be put on ventilator support on July 4 after his heart rate had started falling and his oxygen levels started fluctuating.
Stan Swamy had been arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) last year. He was charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and terror-related offenses under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for allegedly furthering the cause of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) through civil rights organisations he was a part of.
Fr Swamy’s bail plea, filed on grounds that he is suffering from serious ailments and claiming that he is being framed in the case by the NIA due to the nature of his work, had been rejected earlier.
Rights activist Stan Swamy, who is considered to be the oldest person to be accused of terrorism in India, had also struggled to procure a straw and a sipper – both of which had been seized from him during his incarceration. Since Fr Swamy was a patient of Parkinson’s, he used to face difficulty in drinking water without a tool. It had taken the agencies one month and a social media storm to provide the two items to the aging priest.
Even last month the NIA had opposed Fr Swamy's bail plea stating “conclusive proof" of his medical ailments does not exist and claiming he is a Maoist who tried to create unrest in the country.
The Elgar Parishad case dates back to 2017. A group of intellectuals had gathered in Pune to attend a conclave, where inflammatory speeches were reportedly made. Maharashtra Police had claimed that people who attended the conclave had Maoist links and that their speeches triggered the caste violence at the Bhima-Koregaon war memorial.