Stan Swamy, an 84-year-old priest-activist arrested under an anti-terror law in the Elgar Parishad case last year, died this afternoon in the middle of his fight for bail on health grounds. The Jesuit priest had been on a ventilator since yesterday when his health worsened drastically.
Stan Swamy was being treated at the private Holy Family Hospital in Mumbai following a court order on May 28. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had opposed a private hospital and had recommended JJ Hospital, to which, he had said: “I’d rather die here in prison.”
Jailed near Mumbai since October, Stan Swamy spent the last few months of his life fighting legal battles for even the smallest of needs. In December, he was allowed a straw and a sipper in jail, which he had requested in court on account of Parkinson’s disease.
The NIA, which arrested him in October from his home in a widely criticized late-night swoop, opposed his bail request in court and had said there was no “conclusive proof” of his medical ailments. The agency held firm to its argument that Stan Swamy was a Maoist who had plotted to cause unrest in the country.
Stan Swamy had told the High Court via video-conferencing that his health had consistently declined at the Taloja prison in Navi Mumbai and if he was not granted interim bail, he “would die soon”. He had requested medical treatment and interim bail multiple times.
Last week, Stan Swamy had filed a fresh plea for bail in the Bombay High Court, challenging the stringent conditions for bail to an accused charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA)Act. When the hearing started today, his lawyer told the High Court that the activist had died at 1.30 pm.
His body will be handed over to Father Fraser Mascarenhas, the local parish priest.
Soon after the news, there were messages and tributes.
“Heartfelt condolences on the passing of Father Stan Swamy. He deserved justice and humaneness,” tweeted Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.