Fr. Stan Swamy
82-year-old Stan Swamy, suspect in Bhima Koregaon case, ‘appeals to nation’s conscience’
Fr. Stan Swamy, prominent human rights defender and champion of the rights of Dalit and indigenous communities, died in custody on 5 July 2021. The 84 year old Jesuit priest, was arrested on 8 October 2020 linked to the Bhima Koregaon case. He is one of 16 human rights defenders who were incarcerated, falsely accused of being involved in the violence that erupted in Bhima Koregaon on 1 January 2018. Stan founded the Vistapan Virodhi Janvikash Andolan (VVJA), an all India platform for different movements that are resisting displacement of adivasi people, dalits, and farmers from their lands. The organisation has supported the vulnerable communities in securing their land rights and proposing sustainable development models instead. Stan Swamy expressed dissent with several policies and laws enacted by the government relating to adivasi people and their lands, and questioned their validity and legality in the light of the Indian Constitution. During his 9 month incarceration at Taloja jail, Stan was denied medical treatment and necessary care, despite suffering from advanced parkinsons and at severe risk of Covid-19. He eventually died in custody, after repeatedly being denied bail, due to the lack of effective and timely treatment.