Published: 05th July 2021
RIP Father Stan Swamy: India's oldest political prisoner passes away an hour before bail hearing
Swamy's counsel Mihir Desai said there was negligence on the part of the Taloja prison authorities, who failed to provide immediate medical attention to the Jesuit priest
Indian Roman Catholic priest and activist Father Stan Lourduswamy AKA Stan Swamy, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, died at 1.30 pm in a Mumbai hospital where he was being treated. An official from the hospital informed the Bombay High Court on Monday. Swamy was 84 years old. He breathed his last an hour before the bench was set to hear his bail plea.
Dr Ian D'Souza, director of the Holy Family Hospital in suburban Bandra, informed the HC's division bench of Justices S S Shinde and N J Jamadar about his death. The tribal rights activist was admitted to the private hospital on May 29 from the Taloja prison following the HC's order on a petition filed by him, seeking medical attention as he was then suffering from COVID-19, hearing loss and Parkinson's disease. D'Souza told the court that Swamy suffered a cardiac arrest early Sunday morning following which he was put on ventilator support. “He (Swamy) did not recover and passed away this afternoon,” the official told the court. The cause of the death is a pulmonary infection, Parkinson's disease and post COVID-19 complications, he said.
Swamy's counsel Mihir Desai said there was negligence on part of the Taloja prison authorities, who failed to provide immediate medical attention to the Jesuit priest. Swamy was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in October 2020 and had been in jail since then. Swamy was the last and the oldest person to be arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in the Bhima Koregaon case, on October 8, 2020. After he sought bail on medical grounds, the Bombay High Court on May 28, 2021, asked the Maharashtra government to transfer him to the Holy Family Hospital from Taloja Central Jail for treatment. Desai, his counsel has said that there is no complaint about the treatment at the hospital.
While undergoing treatment, he had tested positive for COVID-19. He also suffers intense pain due to lumbar spondylosis i.e wear and tear of the lumbar disc, and tremors in both hands. At an earlier hearing, Swamy had refused to get admitted to a hospital, pleading the court to grant him interim bail so that he could be with his own people. He also told the court that his condition has progressively deteriorated in prison.
The priest was born in Tiruchy in Tamil Nadu on April 26, 1937. He studied theology and Masters in Sociology in the Philippines, where he was also involved with a series of protests and demonstrations against the administration. Later on, he got acquainted with Brazilian Catholic Archbishop Hélder Câmara whose work with poor people moved him. he has been the Director of the Jesuit-run Indian Social Institute, Bangalore from 1975 to 1986.