Insight Online News Desk
“It is with deep sorrow and anguish that we have learnt of the arrest of Fr Swamy regardless of age his credentials as a social activist and friend of tribals and the downtrodden,” said Auxiliary Bishop of the Church Theodore Mascarenhas and secretary Punam Soreng in a statement issued on Friday.
An 83-year-old Jesuit priest, Swamy has been arrested by the NIA in connection with the probe into the 2018 violence in Maharashtra’s Koregaon-Bhima village. He was picked up from his home at Bagaicha in Jharkhand’s capital by NIA officials from Delhi. The officials reportedly spent around 20 minutes at his home before taking him away.
The Church wondered why the NIA threw all humanitarian considerations to the wind in arresting and old and ailing social activist in a castigating manner, even as he has been thoroughly cooperating with the police and the investigating agency. “He was arrested in a cloak-and-dagger operation, leaving the local police and the administration in the dark,” read the statement.
“The arrest hardly bring any glory to the premier national investigating agency. The investigating agencies should have come in the day and he could be questioned at his home, as he has been be answering all queries. He had explained the investigating authorities about his age and sickness and also cited the risk of travelling to Mumbai during the Covid pandemic,” said the Church functionaries.
Jharkhand Pradesh Congress Committee (JPCC) president and minister Rameshwar Oraon also termed the arresting of Swamy as unfortunate and said that the NIA’s act against the social activist only reinforced the people’s perception about the BJP-led Central government’s nefarious plan to muffle the voice of dissent of intellectuals and social activists.
The arrest has sparked outrage from different quarters as well. Author and historian Ramachandra Guha said Stan Swamy has spent a “lifetime fighting for the rights of adivasis.” “That is why the Modi regime seeks to suppress and silence them; because for this regime, the profits of mining companies take precedence over the lives and livelihoods of adivasis,” Mr Guha tweeted.
Lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan tweeted, “…Now arrested by the NIA under UAPA! The venality of this BJP government & NIA knows no bounds (sic).”
The probe agency claimed that Stan Swamy is a member of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) and was “actively involved in its activities”.
The agency said documents and propaganda material of the CPI (Maoist) and literature were seized from Stan Swamy, adding that he was in contact with the other accused in the Koregaon-Bhima case.
“The NIA is after me. I’m being pressurised to go to Bombay… The NIA questioned me for 15 hours… I’m being called to the Mumbai office of the NIA. I refuse to go there. I am 83 and have health issues. I don’t want to expose myself to the coronavirus. I have never been to Bhima Koregaon,” Stan Swamy had said in a video on October 6, adding that he was ready for questioning y the NIA via video-conferencing.