A special court in Mumbai has placed a Jesuit priest in judicial custody on charges of having links with a banned terror group. Source: CNS.
Officials of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which probes terrorism-linked activities, arrested Fr Stan Swamy, 83, on October 8 at his residence at Bagaicha, a Jesuit social work centre in the outskirts of the Ranchi, ucanews.com reported. He was arrested for alleged links to outlawed Maoist rebels, which the Jesuits and Indian rights activists say are trumped-up charges. He will remain custody until October 23.
“We are consulting lawyers to move the appropriate court for his bail,” said Jesuit Fr Davis Solomon, a colleague of Fr Swamy.
A statement from the Jesuits’ Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat noted that, two days before his arrest, Fr Swamy released a video explaining his fight for tribal land rights. He said he had been interrogated by police for 15 hours over five days this (northern) summer.
“What is happening to me is not something unique. It is a broader process that is taking place all over the country,” Fr Swamy said in the video. “We are all aware how prominent intellectuals, lawyers, writers, poets, activists, students, leaders, they are all put into jail because they have expressed their dissent or raised questions about the ruling powers of India.”
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India appealed for Fr Swamy’s immediate release.
NIA officials told media that their investigations have established that Fr Swamy was actively involved in the Maoist rebels’ activities.
Fr Swamy and Church officials have consistently denied charges, maintaining that they are fabricated to silence the priest, who has worked for tribal peoples’ rights.