Stan Swamy, an influential Jesuit priest and a Naxal activist was refused bail by the National Investigation Agency Court on March 22, 2021, in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon–Elgaar Parishad case.
Certain Christian organisations have called for a prayer meeting today (July 28) for the deceased Bhima-Koregaon violence accused Fr Stan Swamy. The National Council of Church organises the prayer meeting in India, jointly with the Evangelical Council of India, All India Catholic Methran Samithi and Eeso Sabha Asian Province.
Thiruvananthapuram Latin Archdiocese Arch Bishop, M Soosa Pakiam, has asked all the Churches under its control to conduct prayer meetings this evening from 6 PM–6:45 PM every for Stan Swamy.
Who is Stan Lourduswamy? A Priest or Maoist?
Stan Swamy, an influential Jesuit priest and a Naxal activist was refused bail by the National Investigation Agency Court on March 22, 2021, in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon–Elgaar Parishad case. The special NIA court said that the 83-year-old Jesuit priest conspired with Maoists to overthrow the elected government and seize power through an armed rebellion.
Special judge DE Kothalikar said in his order that prima facie Swamy had hatched a “serious conspiracy” with members of a banned Maoist organisation to create unrest in the country and to overthrow the government. The judge said that based on the material on record, it seemed Swamy was a member of the banned Maoist organisation CPI (M).
Serious Evidence against Stan Swamy
The material that the court referred to included around “140 emails between the applicant (Swamy) and his co-accused,” the fact that Swamy and others he communicated with were referred to as “comrades”, and that Swamy had received Rs 8 lakh from one comrade, Mohan, allegedly for the further Maoist activities. The court observed that as per the submissions made by the special public prosecutor, the word comrade was used while addressing the members of CPI (M).
“The material placed on record thus prima facie denotes that the applicant was not only the member of banned organisation CPI (Maoist) but he was carrying out activities further in the objective of the organisation which is nothing but to overthrow the democracy of the nation,” the Special Judge added.
“Prima facie it can be gathered that the applicant along with other members of the banned organization hatched a serious conspiracy to create unrest in the entire country and to overpower the Government, politically and by using muscle power,” the NIA judge states clearly in his order.
On refusal to grant bail on health grounds, the NIA court cited Supreme Court precedents and observed, “If seriousness of the allegations made against the applicant is considered in proper perspective, in that case, there will be no hesitation to conclude that the collective interest of the community would outweigh the right of personal liberty of the applicant and as such the old age and or alleged sickness of the applicant would not go in his favour, so that the discretion to release the applicant can be exercised in his favour.”
The court’s reasoning for denying Swamy's bail rests upon Section 43D of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. The said section provides for the rejection of bail application if the court believes that the allegations against the accused are prima facie true. Therefore, the threshold of seeking bail is higher in UAPA than the criminal procedure code.
The court also looked through various investigation papers, which said that Swamy and his organisation ‘Bagaicha’ were “deeply involved in facilitating the interest/furtherance of CPI (M) activities by its deep-rooted association” with other organisations.
The court further said, “The material placed on record thus prima facie denote that the applicant (Swamy) was not only the member of banned organisation CPI (Maoist) but he was carrying out activities further in the objective of the organisation which is nothing but to overthrow the democracy of the nation.”
Stan Swamy was arrested in October 2020 from Ranchi and since then has been lodged at the Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai. Stan Swamy’s lawyer, Mr Sharif Shaikh, attempted to secure bail for Stan, saying that Stan had Parkinson’s disease and lost hearing in both ears. However, the NIA Court refused this plea and instead issued instruction for Stan Swamy to be shifted to a prison hospital.
The prosecution had also told the court that during a raid at Stan Swamy’s properties in 2018 and 2020; they had recovered 40 documents, including the literature of 50 years of Naxalbari, CPI (M) press releases, circulars issued by the Central Committee, the literature on how to struggle things, letters, guide of encrypted data communication on GSM Network, message on the celebration of 13th Anniversary of CPI (M), an essential underground handbook, mini manual of urban guerrilla, the constitution of CPI (M), documents related to the status of PLGA in excel sheet form, and a document on strategy and tactics of Indian Revolution.
The court noted that another letter issued by Comrade Arun to Swamy starts with salutations, ‘Lal Johar’. The prosecution had told the court that the members of the CPI (M generally use the words ‘Comrade’ and ‘Lal Johar’).
The NIA has claimed that Swamy was furthering the activities of the CPI (Maoist) through his “deep-rooted association” with other organisations like the Majdoor Sanghatan Samiti, Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee (PPSC), calling them “frontal organisations” to the banned group.
Planning the assassination of Prime Minister Narendra Modi
As per the Pune Police, which initially investigated the case before handing it over to the NIA, the inflammatory speeches delivered at the ‘Elgar Parishad’ conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, were partially responsible for the violence witnessed the next day in Bhima Koregaon.
The Pune Police had claimed that outlawed Maoist groups backed the conclave. Based on the recoveries made during raids at the premises owned by several accused high-profile activists, the investigating agency had told the court that the CPI (Maoist) was not waging a conventional war but a people’s war by mobilising people on a massive scale, both militarily and politically.
In the courts, the Pune police have claimed that the arrested activists had active links to the CPI(Maoist), which was engaged in destabilising the country and working against national security. It had even claimed that the arrested people were associated with a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The investigation was eventually widened, with the Pune police claiming retrieval of incriminating documents in the form of electronic records. This included an email written by a certain 'R' to Comrade Prakash on April 18, 2017, talking of a "Rajiv Gandhi-type" operation.
What is Elgar Parishad Case?
On June 1 2018, Bhima Koregaon village, Pune, where a certain section of people from scheduled castes had gathered to mark the 200th anniversary of a battle, which British and Left historians projected as a battle between Mahar soldiers fighting for the British and the Brahmin Peshwa rulers of the Maratha empire. The Naxals have tried to exploit this event by misinterpreting it to create a fault line amongst Hindus.
The police said the violence was provoked by activists and human rights lawyers, some of whom had attended the Elgar Parishad, a programme organised by the Naxals under the garb of Dalit and human rights groups in Pune a day before the anniversary of Bhima-Koregaon. The clashes left one dead and several injured, including ten police officers.
The Pune police had initially arrested five activists and lawyers from Pune, Nagpur and Delhi, saying that they had links with banned Naxal organization CPI(Maoist) and played a role in organizing the Elgaar Parishad. Later that year, in August, the Pune police carried out simultaneous searches at the houses of eight Naxal activists in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Goa and Ranchi. Judicial intervention foiled its bid to arrest the activists, but three months later, it arrested four of them, including Chhattisgarh-based Sudha Bhardwaj and Hyderabad-based Varavara Rao. They have been in jail ever since.