Tribal rights activist Stan Swamy’s 
death in custody cannot be justified, says Sanjay Raut
File Photo

Shiv Sena Member of the Parliament (MP) Sanjay Raut, in his weekly column Rokhthok in Saamna, has lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre, over the death of 84-year-old Father Stan Swamy, saying that the activist, who fought for tribal rights, was killed in jail. He asked whether the country’s foundations were so weak that Swamy could overthrow the Narendra Modi government. “We may not agree with the ideology of maoists and naxals. However, the death of Swamy in custody cannot be justified even if maoists are ‘more dangerous than Kashmiri separatists’, said Raut in a strongly worded column.

Raut compared this government to the one under Indira Gandhi that had accused George Fernandes of plotting to overthrow the government. "A government that is scared of a physically challenged man is dictatorial in character, but weak in the mind," said Raut.

The Shiv Sena MP asserted that the activities of the Elgar Parishad cannot be supported. However, what happened later should be called a ‘conspiracy of cracking down on freedom’. He was referring to the arrest of activists like Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Gaurav Navlakha and others in connection with the Elgar Parishad case.

Raut said all those arrested in the case, including scholar and activist Anand Teltumbde, belong to a particular ideology who voice their rebellion through literature. "Can they overthrow the government with this?" he asked.

He expressed surprise over Prime Minister Narendra Modi's name figuring in the list of global leaders who crack down on press freedom. "The situation has not gone out of hand in India even if it is true that the government's critics are put in jail under sedition laws. The Indian press also raises its voice against such incidents," he said.

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