Painful wait Stan Swamy will have to endure for sipper, can’t be tolerated: Rights body

The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) has expressed its outrage at the continued denial of a sipper and straw to jailed activist Stan Swamy.

Jharkhand-based tribal rights activist and Jesuit priest Father Stan Swamy was arrested last month over his alleged involvement in the Bhima-Koregaon case.

83-year old Stan Swamy is a person living with Parkinson’s, which is a condition recognised as disabling as per the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016.

“As per various laws and international conventions to which India is a signatory, it is obligatory that Stan Swamy be provided with requisite age & disability appropriate requirements, assistive aids including straws and sippers as also human care assistance. Denial of the same constitutes a violation of his basic rights,” said the rights body in a statement.

It took 20 long days for the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to come up with a claim that they did not seize these items from Stan’s possession.

“Even if we accept the NIA’s contention, the Special Court should have taken a humanitarian view and ordered that he be provided with an utensil that would assist him in intaking fluids including water. The refusal to do so is atrocious to say the least,” NPRD said.

The organisation said the painful wait that Swamy will have to endure for a sipper, cannot be tolerated any longer.

“December 4, when the very same court decides again, is seven days away. Stan cannot be refused fluids for such a long period,” the statement said.

The NPRD and its affiliating units have therefore decided to send sippers to the Jailor of Taloja Jail, Maharashtra to be given to Stan Swamy.

The NPRD also appealed to all disability rights organisations, activists and all those who seek justice for Stan Swamy and stand in defence of his rights to join this campaign and send sippers to Swamy.

Swamy who has spent many decades fighting for the rights of Adivasis in Jharkhand, is a founder member of the Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan, a peoples’ movement against displacement.

Swamy is the 16th person to be arrested in the Elgar Parishad case. A total of 15 people have been arrested in the case so far. In 2018, as part of a massive crackdown on human rights defenders in India, 9 prominent activists– Sudha Bharadwaj, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Arun Ferreira, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Vernon Gonsalves, and Varavara Rao were arrested by the Pune Police in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon case. Two years later, the crackdown on human rights defenders continues with the arrests of Gautam Navlakha, Anand Teltumbde, Hany Babu, Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor, and Jyoti Jagtap.

Many international and national rights groups and activists have been expressing their deep concern at the actions of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in its investigation of the Bhima-Koregaon case.