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Tale of Two Indias: Where Stan Swamy Suffers and Suraj Pal Amu Stays Free

What killed Father Stan Swamy? Was it cardiac arrest? Or the judicial system that denied bail to the 84-yr-old man?

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Video Producer: Shohini Bose

Video Editor: Mohd. Irshad Alam

Camera: Shiv Kumar Maurya

Yeh Jo India Hai Na… It needs an answer – Who killed Father Stan Swamy?

What killed Father Stan Swamy? Was it really just cardiac arrest? Was it really just the effect of COVID on his lungs? Or was it because of a judicial system that denied him bail again and again, despite knowing that the 84-year-old man’s hands shook due to Parkinson’s disease, that he suffered from hearing loss, and chronic pain from spondylosis.

The NIA Special Court, in a 74-paragraph judgement, did not bother to spend a single paragraph explaining why Stan Swamy’s collapsing health, his old age were ignored while denying him bail.

TALE OF TWO INDIAS

In contrast to Swamy’s months in jail, is the complete freedom that Suraj Pal Amu enjoys. Suraj Pal Amu, with no fear of the law, with the backing of his party, that has made him BJP spokesperson for Haryana, spreads hatred against Muslims on a regular basis.

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From glorifying those who lynched Asif Shaikh in May to saying that love jihad originated in Pataudi with Sharmila Tagore, to labelling all Muslims in India as Pakistanis who needed to be driven out of the country, Suraj Pal Amu is a serial offender.

As chief of the Karni Sena, he even offered Rs 10 crore to anyone who would behead Deepika Padukone during the Padmavat controversy in 2017. Yet, he is free.

On the other hand, while denying bail to Stan Swamy, the NIA court said: The ‘collective interest of the community outweighs Swamy’s right to personal liberty’ despite his age or alleged illness.

The point is, that if the interest and safety of India is a concern for the NIA and the NIA special court, why is Suraj Pal Amu a free man? Has the Home Ministry, the Haryana government and the police not seen any of his viral videos? Can’t they spot the hate? And the open threats of violence? No, they have chosen NOT to.

What Killed Father Stan Swamy?

Was it the Additional Public Prosecutor, who objected to Swamy being taken to a private hospital till it was too late? Was it Maharashtra’s Taloja jail authorities who didn’t have the humanity to allow him a simple sipper and straw? Or was it the NIA that slapped the 84-year-old Catholic priest with UAPA charges, accused him of being a Maoist, without bothering to share evidence after arresting him in October 2020.

In fact, after the arrest, the NIA didn’t take custody of Swamy for even a day. They just wanted him behind bars and use the UAPA to keep him suffering in jail because as we now know, when it come to the UAPA the process is the punishment.

The government that is blatantly using the UAPA to shut down all dissent needs to be asked — why did they allow the UAPA to become Father Stan Swamy’s death sentence? Sadly, he died on a day that his bail plea was being heard yet again, except, instead of arguing for bail, Swamy’s lawyer could only tell the court that the old man had died.

Remember Ram Bhakt Gopal?

Contrary to Swamy’s tragic death is the the freedom Ram Bhakt Gopal enjoys. The man who pulled out a gun and shot at anti-CAA protesters in January 2020, injuring one student, was granted bail since he was allegedly a minor. But now, an adult, he is back to spewing hate.

He said, "As Muslims are killed, they will call out for Ram! India doesn’t belong to Muslims, but to Shivaji." He says he does not believe in secularism. On Instagram, he often signs off as Godse, underlining his adoration for the man who killed Mahatma Gandhi. How much more evidence does the police need to act against Ram Bhakt Gopal?

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People like Umar Khalid have been charged under UAPA and have been accused of being terrorists by the same police, with no evidence. Imagine what Umar Khalid would be accused of had he been caught pointing a gun in a public gathering. Even as high courts across India have trashed several UAPA-related police investigation, the cops and their political bosses have refused to drop the cases.

Why? Because for people who disagree – human rights activists, lawyers, students, journalists – what is a better punishment than UAPA? There is no need for trial, no need for evidence, and the accused can stay in custody for as long as three years, except in Stan Swamy’s case, where he simply died waiting.

In yet another bail hearing on 21 May, speaking to the Bombay High Court from jail via video conference, Stan Swamy said “I will probably die here, very shortly, if things go on as it is.”

Forty five days later, he was dead. Yeh Jo India Hai Na... yahan, on Monday, 5 July, not only did we lose Father Stan Swamy but we also lost some humanity.

We even lost the rule of law, our freedom of speech, secularism, diversity, and a large part of our democracy. And it also seems that Gandhi is steadily losing ground to Godse.

(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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