Indian Christians, human rights activists, and civil society groups on July 5 observed the first death anniversary of Jesuit Father Stanislaus Lourduswamy.
He was popularly known as Father Stan Swamy (1937-2021). He worked for the rights of marginalized people in India, especially tribal people in eastern India. He fought hard for the land rights of Adivasi and Dalit communities against multinational companies and mining businesses, according to indcatholicnews.com.
Members of Paschim Banga Samajik Naya Mancha, Kolkata and friends organized a “Candle Light Rally on July 5, to Park Circus Maidan to commemorate the first death anniversary of Father Stan Swamy.
“He was a caged bird who sang the song of justice and human rights,” said Jesuit Father Felix Raj, vice-chancellor of St Xavier’s University, Kolkata (formerly Calcutta).
The National Investigation Agency of India arrested him on unproved charges about his advocacy work being linked to Maoist terrorism.
Following his arrest, a worldwide campaign was launched appealing for his release.
A long-term sufferer of Parkinson’s disease, his incarceration in a crowded prison since October 9, 2020, worsened his condition.
After seven months, the health of the 84-year-old priest had deteriorated and he was admitted to Holy Family Hospital in Mumbai in late May by the Bombay High Court.
His condition became critical after he tested positive for Covid-19. Father Stan died on July 5, 2021.
In New Delhi, India’s capital, some activists gathered to celebrate the life of Father Stan Swamy on the first anniversary of his passing away last year, a prisoner of the state.
According to John Dayal, a senior journalist and human rights activist, “the police did not allow any meeting in a public place, not even a candlelight gathering.”
At Jesuit-run Indian Social Institute, New Delhi, a function was held where scholar, academic and author Neera Chandhoke delivered the first Stan Swamy Memorial lecture.
“Stan Swamy’s arrest and incarceration were unconstitutional. The right to life and property were fundamental rights that could not be violated. The tragedy is that when bail was the norm he was denied it and he was allowed to die in custody,” said A.J. Philip, a senior and columnist.
“In Stan Swamy’s death, India lost a true lover of the tribals who identified with them, lived with them and served them when he could have enjoyed the creature comforts that the church provided to a Jesuit priest,” he added.
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