Express News Service
RANCHI: Shocked by the special NIA court’s rejection of the bail application filed by 83-year-old Jesuit priest Father Stan Swamy in the Bhima Koregaon case, thousands of activists, intellectuals, film-makers, journalists, lawyers, academics and economists from across the country have demanded his immediate release. The statement signed by more than 2500 people from different walks of life also demanded the repeal of the UAPA and a return to the norm where ‘bail is the rule not the exception’.
The NIA had arrested Swamy in the Bhima Koregaon case on October 8 last year in a case related to the violence which erupted at an event on January 1, 2018 to mark 200 years of the battle there, leaving one dead and several others injured.
The appeal made by the activists also stated that the rejection of the bail application of an elderly and ailing person, with limited mobility and no history of violence against others, is beyond comprehension. It further stated that they know Swamy as an exceptionally gentle, honest and selfless person and have the highest regard for him and his work.
“He has spent decades in Jharkhand working for the rights of the Adivasis and underprivileged. It is ironic that while public support for Stan Swamy continues to grow, the court rejected the bail application in the “community’s interest,” the statement stated. The recent Arsenal report, prepared on the basis of electronic evidence collected by the NIA, has exposed how fake documents wereplanted into the computers of the accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, it said.
According to the statement released on Tuesday, Adivasis, Gram Sabhas, civil society, several political leaders and parties and Jharkhand’s Chief Minister himself have condemned Stan’s arrest and expressed support and solidarity with him.
“Swamy already have told the NIA that some so-called extracts allegedly taken from his computer were fabricated and that he disowned them. But it is disturbing that the court decided to ignore this evidence of fabrication and rejected the bail application,” said the activists in their statement. Stan Swamy is a symbol of the plight of thousands of undertrial prisoners who languish in jail for years under fabricated UAPA charges, often aimed at harassing those who stand up for the underprivileged or oppose the government, it said.
“We appeal for immediate bail for Stan Swamy, repeal of UAPA, and a return to the norm where bail is the rule not the exception,” read the statement. The conviction rate in UAPA cases is extremely low (2.2% during 2016-19 as mentioned in the Parliament), further confirming that they are baseless.