The National Investigation Agency on Thursday took Jesuit priest and human rights activist Fr. Stan Swamy into custody without a warrant from the Bagaicha campus in Ranchi, in connection with the investigation into the Bhima Koregaon violence in 2017/2018. It was not immediately known where he was taken to.
“He was forcibly taken away from the Bagaicha campus, where he has been residing for years. The NIA personnel roughed him up and were arrogant. They said that he was an accused in the case and senior officials wanted to meet him at the NIA office in Ranchi,” said a colleague who did not want to be identified. The Bagaicha campus has been helping and aiding the Adivasis in the region in their fight for rights.
In 2018, a police team from Maharashtra had raided his residence and seized his computer reportedly to investigate his involvement in the Bhima Koregaon case. The case relates to an Elgar Parishad event of 31st December 2017, organised by Kabir Kala Manch at Shaniwarwada in Pune. The Pune police filed a charge sheet and a supplementary charge sheet in the case on 15th November 2018, and 21st February 2019, respectively. After the current government came to power, NIA took over the case on 24th January this year.
The 83-year-old priest had released a statement two days ago that he feared he would be forcibly taken away. In the statement, he said that he was interrogated by the agency for at least 15 hours between 27th July and 30th July and then again on 6th August. The investigating agencies had presented papers to prove his alleged connection to the ‘Maoist forces’. Stan reiterated that these documents had been stealthily out into his computer and he disowned them.
Swamy pointed out that the nature of the NIA investigation had nothing to do with Bhima Koregaon case, but was directed at establishing that he was connected with the extremist leftist forces and through him, Bagaicha was also connected with Maoists.
“I am being summoned to appear in NIA-office in Mumbai. I have informed them (i) that I fail to understand the need for interrogating me further given the fact I have been subjected to that for 15 hours already, (ii) that I am not in a position to undertake the long journey given my age (83) and the nature of the epidemic ravaging the country. Besides Jharkhand Govt has given a directive that during the lockdown period elderly persons above the age of 65 may not appear in public, (iii) that if the investigating agency wants to interrogate me further it can be done through video-conference,” Swamy said.
Fr Cedric Prakash will be on live with Rajdeep Sardesai on INDIA TODAY on the arrest of Fr Stan Swamy 9:30 p.m.