Tribal rights activist and Jesuit priest Father Stan Swamy, who was arrested for his alleged role in inciting a mob to violence in Koregaon Bhima near Pune in Maharashtra, has reportedly provided an update to his situation at the Taloja Central Prison in Navi Mumbai, where the eighty-three-year-old activist is being held.
In a Facebook post shared by Swamy’s friend, human rights activist John Dayal, he has provided a brief update to his current days at the Taloja Jail. The octogenarian wrote to his friends about his fellow inmates who help him out with his chores and said: "Despite all odds, humanity is bubbling in Taloja prison".
The letter that Swamy purportedly wrote, with the help of his prison mate, activist Arun Ferreira, remain unaccessible to the Free Press Journal. However, excerpts from it have been pieced together from Dayal's post on social media.
Swamy wrote that he was being held "in a cell approximately 13 feet x 8 feet", along with two other inmates, while activists Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira were "in another cell".
All three of them had earlier been arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence case.
Providing more details about his cell, Swamy said that "it has a small bathroom" and a toilet with an "Indian commode". However, he was fortunate enough to have been provided with a "western commode chair", he said.
Swamy, who suffers from Parkinson's disease, wrote, "Arun assists me to have my breakfast and lunch. Vernon helps me with bath. My two inmates help out during supper, in washing my clothes and give massage to my knee joints. They are from very poor families."
The eighty-three-year-old activist said that the inmates are only allowed to meet each other for a limited period of time.
"During the day, when cells and barracks are opened, we meet with each other. From 5.30 pm to 06.00 am and 12 noon to 03.00 pm, I am locked up in my cell, with two inmates," wrote Stan Swamy.
Swamy also addressed his well-wishers and supporters in his letter, writing, "Peace! Though I do not have many details, from what I have heard, I am grateful to all of you for expressing your solidarity support."
He urged them to remember his inmates and his colleagues in their prayers.
"Despite all odds, humanity is bubbling in Taloja prison," wrote Stan Swamy.
Stan Swamy, a member of CPI (Maoist), was arrested by NIA yesterday from Ranchi, Jharkhand in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon case, according to the National Investigation Agency (NIA). Swamy had said that he has never been to Bhima Koregaon.
The NIA said that Swamy received funds through an associate for furtherance of CPI (Maoist) activities and propaganda materials of the CPI (Maoist) as well as literature were seized from his possession.
On January 1 in 2018, violence erupted at an event to mark 100 years of the Bhima-Koregaon battle, leaving one dead and several injured, including 10 policemen. The police had filed 58 cases against 162 people during a state-wide shutdown in January following clashes in Bhima-Koregaon.
A number of activists including Gautam Navlakha had been arrested earlier for their alleged involvement in inciting a mob to violence in Koregaon Bhima.
Pune Police has alleged the violence was caused following provocative speeches by members of the group Elgar Parishad the day before on December 31, 2017.