The Jesuit priest, accused of “Maoist terrorism” for his commitment to the Jharkhand tribals, was hospitalised with COVID at the Holy Family hospital in Mumbai. ”I am carrying on,” he said, thanks to prayers from all over the world.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Fr Stan Swamy, 84, was admitted to Holy Family Hospital yesterday and moved to the intensive care unit overnight.
The Jesuit priest, who has been refused bail several times, was granted a 15-day “temporary bail” by the Bombay High Court on medical grounds. Preliminary tests suggest that he has COVID-19. The Court also allowed Fr Frazer Mascarenhas, a friend of Fr Stan, to visit and help care for him.
The Jesuit priest was arrested on 8 October for alleged involvement with “Maoist terrorism”, and sent to Taloja Jail. Originally from Kerala, he has worked for nearly 50 years, in Jharkhand’s tribal areas, defending the rights of the Adivasi forest community, often clashing with the authorities over their poor record at protecting tribal rights.
After his bail application was turned down about a week ago, the priest spoke via video conference with the court saying that he refused hospital treatment and that he wanted to “die” among his people in Jharkhand.
Doctors who had visited him said that his health problems had taken a turn for the worst. His worsening health and support from Jesuit community convinced him to seek admittance at the Holy Family Hospital, which has a COVID-19 ward.
Speaking to AsiaNews, Fr Frazer explained that when the priest refused hospital treatment, “he was confused and only expressed a desire to be back with his people” to die.
While he was badly treated during visits to a government hospital, at Holy Family he is followed by four doctors, plus the medical director.
“Fr Stan is weak, but stable and seems in good spirits. Initial reports indicate COVID infection,” Fr Frazer said this morning.
“When told that Jesuits and others are praying for him, he said: ‘Not only do I know that, but it is because of this solidarity from all over the world, that I am carrying on.’”
Pictured: Fr Stan with the medical director of Holy Family Hospital and Fr Frazer.