Fr. Swamy still seriously ill: Mumbai High Court extends hospitalization
by Nirmala Carvalho

The 84-year-old Jesuit arrested in October on terrorism charges for his commitment to the tribals. In addition to Parkinson's, he contracted Covid-19 in prison and needed intensive care. On "temporary release" for treatement, but the Indian security agency continues to oppose his release on bail.


Mumbai (AsiaNews) - The conditions of Fr. Stan Swamy, the 84-year-old Indian Jesuit arrested in October on suspicion of terrorism, is still critical and requires intensive care treatment. As a result, the High Court of Mumbai yesterday extended the "temporary release" until 5 July by virtue of which the religious has been hospitalized at the Holy Family hospital in Bandra since May 28.

Today the permission that the judges had granted to the religious would have expired. The Jesuit has been repeatedly denied release on bail, despite his age and the fact that he suffers from an advanced form of Parkinson's. It was ascertained in hospital - as suspected - the Jesuit also contracted Covid-19 in the Taloja prison, on the far outskirts of Mumbai, where he had been detained since October.

Fr. Swamy is a lifelong advocate for tribal rights in Ranchi. He is accused along with 15 other activists of organizing the violence that broke out on January 1, 2018 during the demonstrations of the Bhima Khoregaon-Elga Parishad, a protest of the dalit (outcasts ed).

India's National Security Agency (NIA) claims he has links to the Maoist guerrillas, an accusation that the elderly Jesuit has always rejected. Swamy spent his entire life in Jharkhand defending the rights of the adivasi, the tribal peoples which has resulted in his earning many enemies among those who aim to seize the lands of these communities.

In the months he spent in prison, the priest witnessed a serious deterioration in his health conditions: "Eight months ago - he said himself on May 21 last during a dramatic video-conference hearing in front of the judges - I could eat on my own, I was able to write, to walk, to bathe myself. All these things are disappearing one after another. Taloja prison has brought me to a condition where I am unable to write or walk alone. Someone has to feed me”.

At the time the Jesuit had refused hospitalization, asking instead for bail, saying that he now only wanted to "die" among his people in Jharkhand. But the worsening of his conditions and the proximity of his Jesuit community made him accept the transfer to the Holy Family hospital.

Yesterday the judges ordered a new hearing to examine his situation for July 3. The request for release presented by his lawyers is still pending before the court. But the NIA again presented a negative opinion, claiming to have found elements that prove Fr Swamy’s links with the Maoist guerrillas. The Jesuit denounces the proof as having been fabricated, stating that he has never seen those materials before.

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