Indian PM refuses to intervene in Jesuit priest’s case

Social activist and Jesuit priest Father Stan Swamy several days before his arrest. (YouTube screen grab/Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha)

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will not intervene in the case of Jesuit priest Stanislaus Lourduswamy, popularly known as Stan Swamy, who is facing terrorism-related charges.

The National Investigating Agency arrested the 83-year-old priest at his residence in the country’s eastern Jharkhand state on Oct. 8.

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Bombay, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, said Modi refused to intervene on behalf of the Jesuit priest who is a tribals rights activist.

“When we brought it up in the meeting, the prime minister said the case was with the agencies,” said Cardinal Gracias, reported India’s National Herald.

“The PM was aware of the problem, but he said that the government did not want to interfere too much in the functioning of the agency,” said the cardinal.

Cardinal George Alencherry of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church said the prime minister “expressed his inability to intervene in the issue of law.”

The cardinal said the government leader said the outcome of the case “can only come from the investigating agencies.”

“The case had to go through normal channels,” Cardinal Alencherry quoted Modi.

The prime minister — who leads the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party government — met with the church leaders in Delhi on Jan. 19 for a wide-ranging conversation on issues affecting minorities and their rights.

Father Swamy has been ordered detained by the Special National Investigation Agency court after being charged under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

He is the oldest person in the country to face terror-related charges and he has joined 15 others including human rights activists, journalists and scholars arrested in connection to a 2018 incident of caste-based violence known locally as the Bhima Koregaon case.

Father Swamy’s supporters say he is being branded as an anti-nationalist and was jailed because he was fighting for the implementation of laws passed by the parliament for tribal people and their constitutional rights.

On Oct. 26 last year, the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences called for his immediate release, following a similar statement issued by Indian bishops.

On Jan. 15, the priest, who is suffering from Parkinson’s disease, completed 100 days in prison. - LiCAS.news