By. Fr. Jojo M.Fung, SJ
For Jesuit Conference of Asia Pacific Website
Many of us have been inspired by Fr Stan Swamy SJ through his talks and writings as the former director of the Bangalore Indian Social Institute and an unflinching Adivasi human rights activist in Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Odisha, India. His recorded remarks: “I am ready to pay the price whatever be it” inspires us to engage more avowedly in the struggle for a green and just world.
The 83-year-old priest is being detained under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act that allows the state to declare anyone a terrorist and arrest them at will. Alas, Fr Stan is the 16th person arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for his alleged involvement with the Bima Koregeaon Elgar Parishad gathering of around 345,000 people on 31 December 2018, in which organisations serving the Dalits convened an event to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the battle of Koregaon Bhima, a rare occasion when the Dalits prevailed over the dominant Brahmin. The event erupted in violence that left one person dead and several injured and arrested. Fr Stan has been charged with criminal conspiracy and sedition, terrorism, and complicity with the Maoist Communist Party of India – the penalties for which range from seven years’ imprisonment to death.
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