By Madhu Mishra
Ranchi: Thousands of people led by spiritual leaders and sisters of the Ranchi Catholic Church formed human chain in Ranchi on Friday to lodge their protest against the arresting of social activist Father Stan Swamy by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on October 8.
The human chain, which was formed from St Xavier’s College to Samlong via Kantatoli Chowk, was joined by activists of Jharkhand Christian Youth Association and the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM). The participants were carrying placards with photo of Fr Swamy and demanding his immediate release. They alleged that Fr Swamy was falsely implicated in Bhima Koregaon massacre case.
The participants maintained distance in course of human chain formation in view of the prevalence of coronavirus pandemic and also held candles lit in their hands. The banners and placards read the messages like ‘we demand justice,’ ‘stop branding Christians and missionaries as anti-national’, ‘Fr Swamy is not naxalite, he is into social service,’ ‘Bhima Koregaon is the pretext, crushing the voice of dissent is the main reason behind Swamy’s arrest.’
Father Joseph Marianus Kujur, director of XISS, Ranchi, who also participated in the human chain along with Mahua Manjhi of JMM, said that Swamy was innocent. “He was framed under a design by the NIA. His computer and other digital gadget were tampered with. Swamy used to raise researched based issues. He insisted for enforcement of Vth schedule in Jharkhand, strengthening of gram sabha under PESA, settlement of land and release of prisoners caught in wrong cases,” said Kujur.
Archbishop of Ranchi Catholic church Felix Toppo and Auxiliary Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, who led to human chain formation, later held a prayer meeting at St Mary’s Cathedral with only 50 participants. The Gospel was read by Fr. Provincial Ajit Kr Xess, SJ, and the prayers included for the release of Fr. Stan, for social unity, for the good governance by the leaders of the country and for justice and peace for all. The prayer meeting ended with the blessing by the Archbishop and Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas.
Many political leaders including Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren and Jharkhand Pradesh Congress Committee (JPCC) chief Rameshwar Oraon have condemned the arresting of Fr Swamy and demanded justice to him. Various social organisations have also protested against the arresting of Fr Swamy, who is known for his helping nature among tribals and deprived sections of the society.
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.