The political prisoner Stan Swamy has died in an Indian jail. His ‘crime’ was his extraordinary acts for the exploited and oppressed, his conviction the Koregaon Bhima case, a conspiracy to jail India’s progressive people for alleged connection to the Communist Party of India (Maoist).
Stan Swamy has given his live to help the Adivasi. As a Jesuit priest, he has been a fighter for the rights of India’s natives, some of the poorest of the poor. Neglected by the Hindu-Fascist state, the Adivasi are now being driven of their land with the genocidal force of the old state troops.
Father Swamy got to know the Adivasi during his stay at Chaibasa in west Singhbhum, for his religious studies. Deeply pained by their suffering, he vowed to help them. His social consciousness deepened with his study travel to the Philippines. Later, he became an active worker and fighter for the Adivasi. In the 84 years of his life, he oversaw great struggles, like the Naxalbari uprising in 1969, the Emergency years of 1975-77, and the JP Narayan movement. In 1991, Swamy returned to Jharkhand and set up base in Chaibasa. He became involved in the Jharkhandi Organisation for Human Rights (JOHAR),which took up matters pertaining to displacement of Adivasi communities. By the end of the century, he moved to Ranchi and with the help of the Jesuit society, intellectuals and activists such as Ramdayal Munda and Xavier Dias, he set up Bagaicha, a research institute, in 2006.
The landgrab of Adivasi land is in the interest of big agrarian and mining companies, of the imperialist monopolies. So with the expropriation of the Adivasi, the Indian Comprador-Bureaucratic-Bourgeois rulers are deepening the semi-colonial exploitation of India. The Adivasi on the other hand are fighting back with all they have. It is the Communist Party of India (Maoist) that is uniting with them in their just struggle for “Jal, Jungle and Zameen” (Land, Forest, Water), as they say.
It is in this way, in uniting everything that is just and democratic, every resistance against imperialism and their lackeys, that the CPI(Maoist) has become the “biggest threat to internal security” to the Indian rulers. This is also the reason why they point at the Party while cracking down on every piece of the just people’s resistance, like Stan Swamy:
“It was also in 2014-15 when a lot of young people were simply being picked up and put in jail — anyone who resisted unjust displacement, was thrown into jail,” Swamy said, in the same interview which is available for public viewing on YouTube. “It was happening in all the tribal-dominated states, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha and the western part of Bengal. In 2017, I gave a call to whoever I knew, social activists, human rights organizations, civic organizations and said, come, let us sit together and see what we can do. We cannot be bystanders to this.” he said.
This is why Swamy was incarcerated under the Koregaon Bhima conspiracy case, in which 16 leading intellectuals were framed for being overground party workers or “urban naxals”. The world-renowned writer Arundhati Roy said on the occasion of Swamy’s implication in this case:
“Forensic analysis of computer hard disks as reported by the Washington Post has revealed that the prize evidence that allows the agencies to spin the story of a conspiracy was planted by malware in the computer of Rona Wilson, one of the co-accused. That report was buried by the mainstream Indian media as well as the courts. …
But we have a law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which allows our government to continue to incarcerate the accused – the best of India’s lawyers, intellectuals and activists – almost indefinitely, until they die of ill health or their lives are destroyed by years in prison. …
The slow murder of Father Stan Swamy is a microcosm of the not-so slow-murder of everything that allows us to call ourself a democracy. We are ruled by fiends. They have put a curse upon this land.”
When Stan Swamy died in jail, Abhay, the Central Committee spokesperson of the Maoist Party issued a public statement on his demise, that was published in paraphrased form:
He “said the party was grieved and shocked to learn about the death of Swamy.
… The Bombay High Court had failed to respond properly to a bail plea, though Swamy was suffering from Parkinson’s disease and other ailments. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) and jail authorities acted cruelly with him, Abhay accused.
… his fight angered the Modi government, which was serving the interests of corporate forces, the Maoist leader noted.
That was the reason why the rights activist was repeatedly denied bail though his case was at trial stage and his health was failing. NIA, jails and the judicial system have all acted under the influence of the fascist Modi government, Abhay alleged. …
There was an urgent need to build a strong democratic movement against the brahminical hindutva-fascist ideology, he said, while demanding to punish those responsible for Swamy’s death, release those accused in Bhima Koregaon case and Prof. Saibaba, and abolish the UAPA.”