Requests for release of Fr Swamy: he could have Covid
The pandemic is spreading in the Taloja penitentiary, where the 84-year-old Jesuit has been incarcerated for seven months. Inmates would not be provided with adequate assistance. His confrere Fr. Shantanam: "He has fever and a cold, they denied him the vaccination. The hope that prison does not become like Auschwitz".
Mumbai (AsiaNews) – Fr. Stan Swamy, the 84-year-old Jesuit in prison for seven months because he was accused of "terrorism" for his commitment to the poor, may have contracted Covid-19. His brother priests and his family fear for him.
In the last telephone conversation, the cleric complained of symptoms of fever and a cold just as the pandemic is reportedly spreading in the Taloja prison, on the far outskirts of Mumbai, where he has been detained since October.
In a press conference held on May 15, relatives and friends of all 15 arrested on terrorism charges for the 2018 Bhima Koregaon-Elgaar Parishad demonstrations, the case in which Fr. Swamy, denounced the serious conditions in the facility, recalling that most of these arrested are over 60 years old.
On behalf of Fr. Swamy spoke his Jesuit brother Fr. Joseph Xavier. “In seven months - he explained he - he had never complained about his health conditions. But on May 14 he said he was worried about what he sees around him. He himself suffers from fever, cold and stomach pain and they only give him Ayurvedic medicines. Fr. Stan urgently needs medical assistance ".
On behalf of the family, added Fr Xavier," we ask the state and the prison authorities three things. First of all, that a clear picture of the health situation in the Taloja prison is provided; that the interview with prisoners is facilitated also through video calls; finally, that, in light of the pandemic emergency, the release on bail of all 15 arrested, some of them in prison for three years awaiting trial, be reconsidered.”
According to the news released from prison, the majority of the staff of the detention facility have already tested positive for Covid-19. The internal hospital would have between 60 and 65 cases of coronavirus patients; the few tests available, however, would be used only on those who have no symptoms, so as to show that the cases are few.
A 22-year-old inmate awaiting trial died after reporting pain from a sore throat for days, without receiving any medical assistance. Inmates are being asked to care for fellow prisoners hospitalized in the internal hospital, without any isolation. And they would also be denied the vaccine by claiming that they do not have their identity card with them, required by the procedures for the vaccination campaign.
The Jesuit Fr. Arockiasamy Santhanam, who is a lawyer and is following the case of Fr. Swamy on behalf of his congregation, comments to AsiaNews: "The prison authorities must respect a fundamental right of prisoners such as that to health. We hope that Taloja will not become like Auschwitz. We ask that Fr Stan Swamy and the other prisoners in serious conditions are promptly provided the care that can save their lives. If the government is unable to do so, release Fr Stan on bail to allow adequate medical treatment. Otherwise it will be responsible for any consequences "