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US Congress introduced resolution seeking independent inquiry into Stan Swamy’s death

A resolution has been introduced in the United States Congress seeking an independent inquiry into the death of tribal rights activist Stan Swamy, Congressman Juan Vargas said on Tuesday.

Father Stan Swamy, an 84-year-old Indian rights activist, and Jesuit priest, who was jailed for nine months without trial under Indian anti-terror law, died on 5 July at a hospital in Mumbai ahead of a bail hearing.

Vargas, a Democrat representative from the US state of California, made the statement at an online event to mark the first death anniversary of Swamy.

The priest, who campaigned for marginalised tribal communities, was arrested in 2020 in the Elgar Parishad case.

Vargas said that he had recently introduced the resolution in Congress to commemorate Swamy and to push for an investigation into his death, PTI news agency reported.

After his death, Justice SS Shinde of the Bombay High Court ordered an inquiry by a magistrate into the matter. However, the status of the inquiry is unknown.

“I am appalled by the abuse Father Stan faced while in custody,” Vargas said at the webinar “Persecution of Religious Minorities and their Defenders in India: Commemorating Father Stan’s Death in Custody” on Tuesday. “No one who fights for human rights should face such violence and neglect,” he added.

United Kingdom MP Neale Hanvey, Finnish member of the European Parliament Alviina Alametsä, United Nations Special Rapporteur Mary Lawlor and Chhattisgarh-based tribal rights activist Soni Sori also addressed the webinar.

The webinar was co-organised by Front Line Defenders, Hindus for Human Rights, the Humanism Project, India Civil Watch International, and Survival International, and co-sponsored by Adivasi Lives Matter, Dalit Solidarity Forum, the Federation of Indian American Christian Organizations of North America (FIACONA), and the Indian American Muslim Council, a joint press release said.

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