Stan – Indefinite Tribute – 5th July 2021

The Judiciary is the Defence of the Innocent.

Or so we thought.

Fr. Stan Swamy is dead.

The bail which was his right was denied to him.

Despite his age – 84 years and being afflicted with Parkinson’s  

Who (and/or what) killed this Great Soul, is not any more the question.

The threat facing every law abiding citizen of India, who deeply value Constitutionalism, who fight for Deep Democracy, Equity, Justice, Liberty, Equality and Freedom, and who have the courage to dissent and question the actions of the State when it works against the people, is that they are labelled anti-nationals and terrorists.

Quite regularly they are thrown into jail on all sorts of fabricated cases.

Stan was one of the accused in the infamous Bhima Koregaon case. All accused in this case have dedicated their lives struggling for human rights of the most vulnerable, and against social injustices and environmental destruction.

Activists, academics, lawyers, trade unionists, students, journalists.

Draconian laws, such as the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, a law which even the colonial British would be embarrassed to enact, has been used to attack their Fundamental Freedoms and that of so many across India.

Stan would not want us to grieve on his passing. But he would most certainly want us to rise in protest against abuse of law, against abuse of power, against fabrication of cases against dissenters, and most particularly to rise up and hold high with pride the Constitution of India – as he did.

Stan would want us to proudly stand up and

defend the Constitution,

defend human rights,

defend democracy.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) could not produce any logical or legally acceptable evidence against Stan, or others co-accused in the Bhima Koregaon case. Yet NIA blocked Stan’s and rights of others accused to secure bail. Time and again.

At the age of 84, as a Parkinson’s patient, Stan was unable to even sip water. But NIA denied him even a sipper which he requested to sip water.

Locked up in Taloja jail in Mumbai from 8th October 2020, Stan repeatedly sought bail as was his right. That right was denied him.

Will those responsible for his death now accept at least moral responsibility?

Stan would not want us to grieve for his death. He would, instead, want us to tirelessly demand accountability of the investigation agencies, of the Union Home Ministry, and also of the Judiciary, as he did till his very last breath.

A Jesuit priest, Stan lived a spartan life, always struggling for fundamental rights of Adivasis, Dalits and such other vulnerable communities. In his death, we have not lost a great soul of India. In his death every citizens’ security from blatant abuse of police power and disregard for the rule of law has substantially weakened.

As a mark of respect for Stan, and to express your feelings, we invite you to join in an indefinite tribute for this great man

Monday, 5th July 2021, 6 pm (IST) onwards.

Zoom: bit.ly/3yttF9B . Follow live on facebook.com/groups/esgindia

Please share this widely.

The Framing of the Bhima Koregaon Sixteen

  • Hindutva activists arrested earlier for inciting violence were released, and activists and scholars who had attended the Elgar parishad event began to be arrested.
  • This was based on an FIR filed on a complaint by legal activist Tusha Damgude. Sections 153, 505(1)(B), 117 and 34 of IPC invoked against so-called “urban Maoists” Sudhir Dhavale, Sagar Gorkhe, Harshali Potdar, Ramesh Gaychor, Deepak Dengle and Jyoti Jagtap.
  • April 17, 2018: In spite of the Pune JMFC’s refusal to issue a search warrant, Pune Police raided the Nagpur house of lawyer Surendra Gadling and the Delhi and Mumbai residences, respectively, of activists Rona Wilson and Sudhir Dhawle and confiscated their computers, hard drives, portable drives, personal DVDs of wedding and birthday parties. Laptops of other people also seized from Dhawle’s office, which is frequented by social workers.
  • April 18, 2018: Electronic equipment seized sent to Regional Forensic Lab, Pune.
  • April 25, 2018: Police obtained extracted information from RFL, claim to have found letter on Rona Wilson’s computer planning Modi’s assassination.
  • June 6, 2018: Sudhir Dhawale, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Shoma Sen and Rona Wilson arrested by Pune Police.
  • August 28, 2018: Pune police raided the Hyderabad residence of poet Varvara Rao as well as Delhi houses of lawyers Sudha Bharadwaj and Vernon Gonzalvez, and writer Gautam Navlakha, without any warrant. All 4, as well as Arun Ferreira, arrested.
  • November 15, 2018: Original chargesheet filed by Pune Police.
  • November 2019: After BJP led government voted out in Maharashtra, centre transferred case from Pune Police to NIA.
  • February 21, 2020: Suppleme
  • January 2020: NIA took over the BK case. 
  • April 14, 2020: Gautam Navlakha surrendered to NIA. A day before bail hearing in Delhi High Court, taken to Mumbai without court’s permission.
  • Anand Teltumbde arrested despite 4 weeks’ protection granted by SC. Pune sessions court deemed the arrest illegal and ordered his release.
  • September 4, 2020: NIA summoned Ramesh Gaichor and Sagar Gorkhe, members of the Kabir Kala Manch (KKM), for questioning. Allegedly compelled to accuse the people arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case of being Naxalites. 
  • September 5, 2020: Gaucho and Gorkhe refused to make false statements. 
  • September 7, 2020: Gaucho and Gorkhe called again via witness summons and arrested. Later complained to a Mumbai sessions court that they were pressured to make false statements but the court found no irregularity in police conduct.
  • September 2020: Jyoti Jagtap, also a member of KKM, arrested.

Violations in arrests and human rights abuses thereafter (Source: Newslaundry):

  • Unique hash value of electronic evidence (cyber fingerprint to ensure non-tampering) not generated and shared with accused Wilson, Gadling and Dhawle before sending for forensic analysis, violating IT Act mandate.
  • Required list of materials confiscated not submitted to court after raids on Wilson, Dhawle, and Gadling.
  • Witnesses from Pune brought for all these raids, violating CrPC mandate for independent witnesses.
  • Wilson’s phone showed signs of last activity at 5.22 pm, and laptop was also used between 11.16 and 11.22 as per forensic report. Raid was claimed to have been conducted between 6.05 am and 2.02 pm.
  • Gadling, Sen, Swamy and Bharadwaj taken to Amrawati without transit remand.
  • No arrest memos provided to families of accused arrested in June, lawyers selected by police made to represent them.
  • Matter heard and chargesheet filed before sessions court originally, in spite of mandate of NIA court to hear UAPA cases if available. However, once assigned to state government, a case cannot be reassigned. NIA transfer therefore irregular.

Human rights abuses and police apathy (Source: Newslaundry):

  • Gadling’s heart condition: wife not allowed to meet, nor granted medical reports. Cost not borne by state even though mandated.
  • Raut’s gastric disease: biopsy reports not provided after treatment, in spite of several legal appeals.
  • Sen’s commode chair: Daughter who brought the chair in view of mother’s arthritis turned away thrice. Request granted 1 month after arrest.
  • Gadling’s sweater: Denied woollen sweater, police told wife to get thermal sweater. Thermal sweater denied for being full sleeve, told to get half sleeved sweater.Gadling denied bail to attend mother’s funeral and condolence meeting.
  • Dhawle denied bail  to attend brother’s funeral and condolence meeting.
  • Varavara Rao’s UTI and dementia: after health worsened in May, admitted to JJ Hospital but brought back to jail before tests could be completed. Family members found him with a urine soaked bed and pyjamas in jail. Sent to St. George Hospital after catching Covid. Admitted to Nanavati after NHRC intervention. Sent back to jail in August without informing court or family. Admitted back to Nanavati after 2 month long legal fight.

Songs of resistance

  • Hum Dekhenge: Youtube link
  • Le Mashale Chal Pade Hain Log Mere Gaon ke by Balli Singh Cheema (Language: Hindi)- The Poem and the Video
  • Laal Jhanda Lekar Comrade by Reyazul Haque (Language: Hindi) – The song and the YouTube video
  • Halla Bol by Kanti Mohan (Language: Hindi) – the YouTube Video 
  • Bella Ciao (Wapas Jao) – Hindi Version by Poojan Sahil – The YouTube Video
  • Bella Ciao (Wapas Jao)- Punjabi Version by Poojan Sahil – The YouTube Video
  • Sab Yaad Rakha Jayega, Sab Kuch Yaad Rakha Jayega by Aamir Aziz (Language: Hindi) – The Poem and  the YouTube Video
  • Aye Bhagat Singh Tu Zinda Hain by Sheetal Sathe (Language: Hindi) – The YouTube Video
  • Nafas Nafas Kadam Kadam (Language: Hindi) – The YouTube Video
  • Nijeder Mawte Nijeder Gaan by Anirban Bhattacharya (Language: Bengali) – The YouTube Video
  • Hitler ke Saathi by Sambhaji Bhagat (Language: Hindi)  – The YouTube Video
  • Ho Gayi Hai Peer Parvat Si by Dushyant Kumar (Language: Hindi) – The poem and the YouTube Video
  • Remake of Gaon chodab nahi (we will not leave our village) by Bhagwan Maaji (Language: Hindi)  – the Video 
  • Go Protest by Sumit Roy and Aman Agarwal (Language: Hindi) – The YouTube Video
  • POORNA SWARAJ – RollsRoy’s (Language: English & Hindi Rap) – The YouTube Video

Letters from Jail

Letter 1

Dear friends,

Thank you so much for the solidarity support by so many, for me and my co-accused. I am really grateful. The Prison administration provides breakfast, tea, milk, lunch and dinner. Any additional edibles are to be purchased from the prison canteen, twice a month. Also, newspapers, toiletries, stationary and other essentials can be purchased through the prison canteen. My needs are limited. The Adivasis and the Society of Jesus have taught me to lead a simple life. I had brought with me a “sipper-tumbler”, to drink tea and water. However, the same was disallowed at the prison gate, on entry on 9 October. Now, I am using a baby-sipper mug, which I purchased through the prison hospital. I have communicated this need to our lawyers. I am still awaiting to receive the sipper-tumbler. Varavara Rao is very sick. Kindly, pray for him. Listening to the life-narratives of the poor prisoners is my joy in Taloja. I see God in their pains and smiles.

Letter 2

Dear friends:

Peace! Though I do not have many details, from what I have heard, I am grateful to all of you for expressing your solidarity support. I am in a cell approximately 13 feet x 8 feet, along with two more inmates. It has a small bathroom and a toilet with Indian commode. Fortunately, I am given a western commode chair.

Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira are in another cell. During the day, when cells and barracks are opened, we meet with each other. From 5.30 pm to 06.00 am and 12 noon to 03.00 pm, I am locked up in my cell, with two inmates. Arun assists me to have my breakfast and lunch. Vernon helps me with bath. My two inmates help out during supper, in washing my clothes and  give massage to my knee joints. They are from very poor families.

Please remember my inmates and my colleagues in your prayers.

Despite all odds, humanity is bubbling in Taloja prison.

Letter 3:

I deeply appreciate the overwhelming solidarity expressed by many people around the world, in these 100 days in prison.Sometimes the news of so much solidarity has given me immense strength and courage, especially when the only certain thing in prison is uncertainty. Another source of strength in these last hundred days has been to observe the difficult situation of the other prisoners awaiting trial. Most of them come from economically and socially disadvantaged communities. Many of these poor people do not even know what charges have been brought against them and have never seen their indictment. They remain in prison for years, without any legal assistance. Overall, almost all prisoners are forced to live with the bare necessities, rich or poor. This condition creates a sense of brotherhood and solidarity in the community of prisoners: one learns that it is possible to support one another in spite of adversity. We 16 co-defendants cannot meet because we are housed in different prisons or in different departments within the same prison. But we will continue to raise our voices in the future . A caged bird can still sing.

One of Fr. Stan Swamy’s last messages

“What is happening to me is not something unique, happening to me alone. It is a broader process that is taking place all over the country. We are all aware how prominent intellectuals, lawyers, writers, poets, activists, student leaders – they are all put in jail just because they have expressed their dissent… I am ready to pay the price whatever may it be”

Interviews of Fr. Stan

In Conversation with Father Stan Swamy (2017) by Lokayat 

Jharkhand’s Stan Swamy’s statement against the police raid at his place

Don’t Wish PM Any Ill, Only Wish For True Governance: Father Stan Swamy’s interview with NDTV

I Won’t Be A Silent Spectator, I Am Ready To Pay The Price by Karwan e Mohabbat

Fr. Stan 2.5 Min Mobile Version by Ashok Maridas (his last interview)

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