83-year-old activist Father Stan Swamy was sent to jail till October 23 by a special court in Mumbai today, a day after his arrest by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with the 2018 violence in Maharashtra's Koregaon-Bhima village.
Father Stan Swamy, a Jesuit priest who works with tribals, was arrested from his home in Jharkhand capital Ranchi by a team of NIA officials from Delhi. The late night arrested has led to massive outrage.
NIA officials said investigations established that Stan Swamy was actively involved in the activities of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) and was "actively involved in its activities". The agency also accused him of receiving funds for CPI-Maoist activities.
Officials reportedly spent around 20 minutes at his home before taking him away.
The agency said documents and propaganda material of the CPI (Maoist) and literature were seized from Stan Swamy and he was in contact with the other accused in the Koregaon-Bhima case.
The priest-activist had posted a video earlier this week alleging that he was under immense pressure and that the NIA had questioned him for 15 hours.
"The NIA is after me. I'm being pressurised to go to Bombay... I'm being called to the Mumbai office of the NIA. I refuse to go there. I am 83 and have health issues. I don't want to expose myself to the coronavirus. I have never been to Bhima Koregaon," Stan Swamy had said in a video on Tuesday.
The case relates to an event on December 31, 2017 in Koregaon-Bhima near Pune, which was followed by violence and arson that left one person dead. Investigators claim that activists at the event, an Elgar Parishad meet, had made inflammatory speeches and provocative statements that led to violence the next day.
The investigation also claimed to have uncovered a plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi. During the investigation, the NIA said, it was revealed that senior leaders of the CPI (Maoist), a banned organisation under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, were in contact with the organisers of the Elgar Parishad event as well as the accused arrested in the case to spread Maoist and Naxal ideology and encourage unlawful activities.
Several prominent activists, scholars and lawyers have been jailed for over two years while they await trial in the Koregaon Bhima case. Stan Swamy, who has several health issues, is the oldest to be arrested till now.
Originally from Kerala, Stan Swamy has been working for tribals in Jharkhand for over five decades. He has been questioned several times by the NIA.
Author and historian Ramachandra Guha said Stan Swamy has spent a "lifetime fighting for the rights of adivasis."
"That is why the Modi regime seeks to suppress and silence them; because for this regime, the profits of mining companies take precedence over the lives and livelihoods of adivasis," Mr Guha tweeted.
"...Now arrested by the NIA under UAPA! The venality of this BJP govt & NIA knows no bounds (sic)," tweeted lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan.