Sunday, December 10, 2023

10 Opposition leaders write to President Kovind over ‘inhuman treatment’ of Stan Swamy

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Opposition leaders including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and chief ministers of Jharkhand, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu have written to President Ram Nath Kovind urging him “to direct the Government to act against those responsible for foisting false cases” on the renowned tribal rights activist and Elgaar Parishad case accused Father Stan Swamy, who died on Monday.

India’s oldest political prisoner and a well-known Jesuit priest, 84-year-old Stan Swamy was denied bail many times as his health deteriorated, has died on Monday. The alleged “institutional murder’ of Swamy prompted an outpouring of anger among politicians, activists, community leaders and writers.

Expressing deep anguish and outrage over the “inhuman treatment” of Father Stan Swamy, the opposition leaders, in the letter, said: “We are urging your immediate intervention as the President of India to direct ‘your government’ to act against those responsible for foisting false cases on him, his continued detention in jail and inhuman treatment. They must be held accountable.”

The letter was signed by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, NCP chief Sharad Pavar, West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee, Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin, Jharkhand CM Hemant Soren, former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda, former Jammu and Kashmir CM Farooq Abdullah, RJD leader Tejaswhi Yadav, CPIM leader Sitaram Yechury and CPI leader D Raja.

They further wrote that Stan Swamy was denied treatment for his various ailments including debilitating Parkinson’s, adding that even a sipper to drink liquids was made available to him in jail only after a nationwide protest.

Even the numerous appeals made to shift the Jesuit priest from the crowded Tajola Jail amidst a rising number of Covid-19 cases went unheeded, leaders alleged.

The letter also said that Swamy’s appeals for bail too, were rejected despite his medical condition.

“It is now incumbent that all those jailed in the Bhima Koregaon case and other detenues under politically motivated cases, misusing draconian laws like UAPA, sedition etc be released forthwith,” read 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 Kovind.

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