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What is Responsible For Father Stan Swamy's Death? Ill Health or State Apathy?

Father Stan Swamy passed away right before the Bombay HC was set to hear his bail application.

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Leaving behind an unfinished legal battle against the NIA, the dreadful UAPA laws, and a system that has been trying to crush dissent mercilessly, Father Stan Swamy passed away at Mumbai's Holy Family Hospital.

This 84-year-old Jesuit priest who had been working for tribal rights in Jharkhand was one of those who were arrested on terror charges in the Bhima Koregaon case.

Given his old age and comorbidities that included a heart condition, Parkinson's disease, hearing loss in both ears, and physical injuries from falls that he had taken during his imprisonment, Swamy had applied for bail.

Even though the NIA didn't seek his custody for interrogation, they kept him lodged in a jail for close to nine months and opposed his bail twice. In fact, last year, when Swamy had applied for bail on humanitarian grounds citing his susceptibility to coronavirus, the NIA had gone on to say that Swamy was taking “undue benefit” of the pandemic to seek bail.

In May this year when the Bombay High Court directed for him to be shifted to a private hospital in Mumbai from Taloja prison, according to reports he had pleaded for interim bail so he could be “with his own” at Ranchi.

As he died of a cardiac arrest as a pre-trial prisoner on Monday, 5 July, right before the Bombay High Court was set to hear his bail application, the criticism around the draconian UAPA law is back.

The question to ask is: Who is responsible for Stan Swamy's death? Is it his medical conditions or is it the apathy of the judiciary and criminal justice system, that instead of coming through for his fundamental rights only viewed him as a UAPA accused until his last breath? Tune in!

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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