What are some facts about Ranchi

Human rights activist P. Swamy arrested in India

The Indian Federal Police arrested the Jesuit Father Stan Lourduswamy on October 8 for "inflammatory speeches", as the Jesuit Mission reported in a broadcast today. Human rights activists sharply criticize the arrest, and his confreres have started an online petition.

 

Father Stan Lourduswamy, “Father Swamy”, has been working for the poor and marginalized in India, especially the Dalits and Adivasis, for over 50 years. (c) Jesuit mission

 

The federal agency NIA (National Investigation Agency) arrested the 83-year-old priest on the Bagaicha campus, his residence near Ranchi, the capital of the east Indian state Jharkhand. The reason for his arrest is his alleged presence during protests in Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018, a tiny village near the city of Pune in the western Indian state of Maharashtra, as Dalits - "untouchables" in the Indian caste system - and members of "higher" castes clashed. Around 35,000 people were there.

No arrest warrant

There was violence, with one dead and numerous injured. 16 people have already been arrested for the event, including human rights lawyers Arun Ferreira and Sudha Bharadwaj and writers Vernon Gonsalvez and Varavara Rao. The Catholic online magazine "Matters India" quotes one of Father Swamy's confreres that the authorities had not submitted an arrest warrant for the priest: "The people at the NIA were rude and arrogant."

Hours of interrogation

Father Swamy has been interrogated several times since July 2020, sometimes for 15 hours without a break. He denies his presence at this gathering, and he even more denies sympathy with or actions in favor of Maoist ideology or acts of violence motivated in this way.

His arrest was condemned by his Provincial, George Pattery SJ, and by the Indian Catholic Bishops' Conference. In Rome, the secretary of the Secretariat for Social Affairs and Ecology at the Jesuit General Administration, Xavier Jeyaraj SJ, spoke up.

As of October 14, 2020, almost 100 representatives from human rights and grassroots organizations as well as other supporters of Father Swamy are on hunger strike to support him. Various petitions for the release of Father Swami on www.change.org already had 50,000 signatures as of October 14, 2020.

The online petition on www.change.org already has over 50,000 signatures. (c) Screenshot

Father Swamy sent a message from imprisonment that he hoped that “the human mind will win”: “If not, we must and can be ready to face the consequences,” he says and thanks everyone who shows solidarity with him demonstrate.

[Elizabeth Mayr]