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HomeWorld NewsAn 84-year-old Indian priest detained under the anti-terrorism law dies

An 84-year-old Indian priest detained under the anti-terrorism law dies

  • Father Stan Swami was arrested last year on suspicion of inciting violence in 2018.
  • After being refused bail, he was admitted to the hospital in May due to the coronavirus.
  • Swami’s lawyer said that Swami was in poor health when he was arrested.

Officials said an 84-year-old human rights activist and Jesuit pastor were detained without trial for 9 months under the Indian Anti-Terrorism Act and died before a bail hearing on Monday.

Father Stan Swami, who campaigned for marginalized tribal communities, was arrested last year on suspicion of inciting violence between different Indian castes in 2018.

Despite suffering from Parkinson’s disease and other diseases, he was previously refused bail. He was admitted to the hospital in May due to the coronavirus and suffered a cardiac arrest over the weekend.

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Swami was detained under the Prevention of Unlawful Activities Act (UAPA), which actually allows people to be detained indefinitely without trial.

The government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi used the law to arrest activists, journalists, students and others in an attempt to suppress dissent.

In February, the government stated that between 2016 and 2019, nearly 6,000 people were arrested under the UAPA, of which 132 were convicted.

After Swami was arrested with scholars, lawyers, scholars, and poets, his lawyer had to fight for him to drink with a straw because his physical condition was unable to hold the cup.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Mary Lawlor, said on Twitter on Monday that his death in custody was “nine months after he was arrested on false allegations of terrorism.”

“The imprisonment of HRD (Human Rights Defenders) is unforgivable,” Lawler said.

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The EU’s special representative for human rights, Eamon Gilmore, said on Twitter that Swami was sentenced to jail “for baseless accusations.”

Swami’s lawyer Mihir Desai told AFP that Swami was in poor health when he was arrested.

Desai said: “Both the state government and the central government should be responsible for his death through their respective agencies handling this case.”

Swami’s Chief Minister of Jharkhand, where he works closely with tribal communities, said that he “strongly opposed his arrest and imprisonment.”

He wrote on Twitter that the federal government “should be held responsible for his death by absolute indifference and failure to provide timely medical services.”





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