Card. Gracias prays for Fr. Stan Swamy, arrested for 'terrorism'
by Nirmala Carvalho

The priest, activist and defender of tribals in Jharkhand, was arrested on 8 October.  He is 83 years old and has Parkinson's, but the court did not grant him release on bail.


Mumbai (AsiaNews) - This morning, during Mass streamed online - due to the pandemic - Card. Oswald Gracias prayed for Jesuit priest Stan Swamy, who was arrested over a month ago on charges of  "Maoist terrorism".  Fr. Swamy has been involved in defending tribals and Dalits for years and has already been targeted with accusations of "Maoism" in the past.

During the Eucharistic celebration, the Archbishop of Mumbai said: “I want to pray especially for our Fr.  Stan Swamy, a Jesuit who was arrested, I know him.  We were together in the same Jesuit community.  I was in that community about 50 years ago, for a few months with him.  He is a very nice person and I can't imagine why they accused him of terrorism.  We pray that justice is done, that he may be at peace and in good health, and that he may be released soon ”.

Just two days ago, a court rejected the 83-year-old priest's request to be released on bail.  Fr Stan was arrested on 8 October last.  The next day, the security forces (National Investigation Agency, Nia) from Ranchi (Jharkhand) transferred him to Mumbai.  Here he asked to be released on health grounds, due to his age, condition, and the coronavirus pandemic.

Fr. Swamy suffers from Parkinson's disease.  His lawyer, Sharif Shaikh, told the court that due to his illness, Fr.  Swamy could not even sign the documents in court and had to use his fingerprint.

The NIA opposed the priest's request, saying he was trying to take "advantage of the pandemic" to get out of prison. Catholics and members of different religions have stood in solidarity with the priest, defender of the tribals.