Elgaar Parishad - Bhima Koregaon case: NIA court sends activist Stan Swamy, 83, sent to judicial custody

Stan Swamy, a 83-year-old Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist was produced before a special court in the city on Friday and remanded in judicial custody by the court till October 23.

The octogenarian had been arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday from his home in Ranchi in connection with the Elgaar Parishad - Bhima Koregaon case. He was brought to Mumbai, where the agency produced him before an NIA special court.

The agency did not seek his custody for interrogation. Special NIA judge DE Kothalikar stated in his order that looking at the reasons cited in the agency’s report he is remanded to judicial custody.

In a press release the agency said about his role that he is a CPI (Maoist) cadre and was actively involved in its activities and was in communication with other cadres of the organization. "He propagated among cadres that the arrest of urban CPI (Maoist) cadres from different parts of the country, particularly Maharashtra has caused a huge irrevocable damage to CPI (Maoist). He received funds from other Maoist cadres for the furtherance of the activities of CPI (Maoist). He is convenor of PPSC (Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee), a frontal organization of CPI (Maoist)" the release said. The incriminating documents related to communications for furthering the activities of CPI (Maoist) and propaganda material of the CPI (Maoist) as well as literature were seized from his possession, the agency added.

Swamy is the oldest among those arrested in the case after revolutionary poet Varavara Rao, 81, taking the number of arrests in the case to 16. He has been advocating for land, forest and labour rights of Jharkhand’s adivasis for the past three decades. The agency has claimed he is a member of the banned CPI (Maoist) and has received funds for its activities. It has also claimed to have seized documents and propaganda material of the organisation from him.

In a video-statement the activist recorded before his arrest, he said that he was interrogated by the NIA for 15 hours over a five-day period and that the agency wanted him to come to Mumbai for further interrogation which he has refused because of his age and risk during the pandemic. He was ready for interrogation through video-conferencing, he said. He added that what is happening to him is not unique, but part of a broader process taking place all over the country. “We have seen how intellectuals, lawyers, poets, writers, activists are put in jail because they have expressed dissent or raised questions about the ruling power,” he said in the video.

The NIA also submitted a supplementary chargesheet in the case. Appearing for accused Sudhir Dhawale, advocate Barun Kumar filed an application for interim bail. Dhawale’s elder brother passed away recently and he wants to attend a memorial function scheduled in that regard on 18 October.

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