According to the anti-terrorist agency, the Jesuit priest is "directly involved" with Maoist terrorist movements (Naxalite) and in defence of the tribals. On December 21, the court will decide on his release on bail. In Washington, London, Italy and the Philippines, demonstrations of support for Fr. Stan.
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) categorically opposes the request for release on bail presented by Fr. Stan Swamy, an 83-year-old Jesuit priest, in prison since last October. F
NIA maintains the priest was arrested over alleged links with Maoist movements and with the tribal movement of the Naxalites. In a series of evidence delivered to the court, it is stated that Fr. Stan is involved in a deeply rooted conspiracy and directly involved in the Naxalite movement [[i]].
Originally from Kerala, the priest spent nearly 50 years in the Jharkhand tribal region working for the forest rights of the Adivasi community.
In particular, the accusation of terrorism dates back to a public meeting in Pune, held on December 31, 2017 in which - according to the police and the NIA - Fr. Swamy delivered inflamed speeches, which led to violence and arrests in Maharashtra. Hence the accusation of links with the Maoists.
The priest, who has walking problems and suffers from Parkinson's, is detained in the Taloja prison (Navi Mumbai), where his cellmates help him to eat and wash.
The court will decide on the release on bail on 21 December. On that occasion, Fr. Stan will also ask that NIA return his backpack and a computer clone of the one that was confiscated.
For the sociologist Fr. Frazer Mascarenhas, sj, the anti-terrorism law that denies the release of Fr. Stan abuses human rights activists, journalists, lawyers, writers. It was launched in times of emergency and should be rejected.
Meanwhile, demonstrations in support of Fr. Stan. On December 9, the Jesuits in Washington protested in front of the Indian embassy, right at the foot of the Gandhi statue. Fr Tim Kesicki, president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the USA, asked for the help of the ambassador for the release of Fr. Stan, “in tune with the great Indian tradition for the defence of democracy and human rights”. Fr. Thomas Reese criticised "the use of so-called anti-terrorism laws to demonize religious leaders who work for justice".
In London, on 11 December, there was a protest before the Indian High Commission. The director of the Jesuit mission in the United Kingdom highlighted that an extension of his imprisonment could be fatal for Fr. Stan, whose health is very fragile and has deteriorated.
Other demonstrations in support of the arrested priest were held in Italy and the Philippines.
[i] Movement with a Maoist imprint, committed to defending the rights of tribals and Dalits, often also with armed struggle