Mumbai: The family and friends of the Elgaar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon accused have, in a statement released a day after 84-year-old tribal rights activist Stan Swamy’s death, called it an ‘institutional murder’.
“This is not a natural death, but the institutional murder of a gentle soul, committed by an inhuman state. Having spent his life amongst the Adivasis in Jharkhand, fighting for their right to resources and lands, Father Stan did not deserve to die in this manner, far from his beloved Jharkhand, falsely imprisoned by a vindictive state,” their statement read.
It was signed by Minal Gadling, Roy Wilson, Monali Raut, Koel Sen, Harshali Potdar, Sharad Gaikwad, Maaysha Singh, Y Ferreira, Susan Abraham , P Hemlatha, Sahba Husain, Rama Teltumbde, Jenny Rowena, Surekha Gorkhe, Pranali Parab, Rupali Jadhav and Fr. Joe Xavier.
“While remembering his gentleness, his humanity and his compassion, we cannot forget the immense injustice of his detention. It is unconscionable that someone of his age and ill-health was put in the prison in the first place, and that too, in the middle of an ongoing pandemic,” it stated and called his arrest and subsequent detention in Taloja Prison as a ‘death sentence’ already pronounced against him.
Referring to a video Swamy made before his arrest in which he denied knowledge of incriminating documents the NIA sleuths had found in his computer and had said they were surreptitiously planted, they said this was vindicated by the report by the US-based digital forensic firm Arsenal Consulting. The firm had found that malware was used to plant files in the computer of Rona Wilson, an accused in the case. Most of the evidence in the case is from these files.
“While we grieve at the passing away of Father Stan Swamy, we unequivocally hold the negligent jails, the indifferent courts and the malicious investigating agencies firmly responsible for his unfortunate death. We fear for the health and lives of our family members and colleagues, who are facing the similar injustices in the same jails, under the same unaccountable system. We continue our vigil for everyone’s safety and security, and as Father Stan would appreciate, “we refuse to be silent spectators and are ready to pay the price!” it stated.
Accused demand NIA officers, jail superintendent be tried for murder
Following the death of tribal rights activist and Jesuit Priest Stan Swamy, his male co-accused in the Bhima-Koregaon case have demanded that officers of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and superintendent of Taloja Central Jail be prosecuted for murder. The jail superintendent Kaustubh Kurlekar did not spare any opportunity to harass Swamy, they had alleged and mentioned the incident where the octogenarian who suffered from Parkinson's disease was denied a sipper by jail authorities. On Tuesday, they also held a one-day fast in Taloja jail in memory of the martyrdom of Swamy and plan to submit these demands to the chief minister through the Taloja jail administration. When contacted, Kurlekar said he could not comment on the allegations.