Every possible effort must be made to provide medical care and treatment to Stan Swamy, the 84-year-old tribal rights activist jailed under the stringent UAPA charges following his arrest last October, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) ordered the Maharashtra government today. The body also sought a report on his condition following his allegation of being denied medical facility in Navi Mumbai's Taolja jail where he is lodged.
Mr Swamy, a Jesuit priest who suffers from Parkinson's disease, along with his co-accused, has been charged by the National Investigating Agency (NIA) as being members of frontal organisations working on behalf of the banned CPI (Maoists) and was named in the 2017 Elgar-Parishad case.
Last month, the NIA opposed his bail plea citing a lack of "conclusive proof" of his medical ailments.
Horrible news to learn that Indian HRD Fr. Stan Swamy is in very serious condition&was put on a ventilator last night.He's spent 9 months in jail on unfounded charges.I'm deeply saddened&expect that every possible specialist treatment will be provided to him— Mary Lawlor UN Special Rapporteur HRDs (@MaryLawlorhrds) July 4, 2021
"Looking into the complaint alleging serious health condition of imprisoned Fr. Stan Swamy (84 years), (NHRC) today issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra, calling upon him to ensure that every possible efforts are made in providing him proper medical care and treatment as part of life saving measure and protection of his basic human rights," a press release from the body said.
"Earlier, the Commission had received a complaint on 16th May, 2021, that...Swamy...was being denied medical facility during the COVID-19 period. It was also alleged that he had not been vaccinated yet and that there was no proper medical care in the jail hospital."
Mr Swamy had also alleged that a majority of jail staff, especially those handling the kitchen, had tested Covid positive. A number of under-trial prisoners, too, had contracted the disease, yet no RT-PCR tests were conducted there, his petition said.
The Elgar Parishad case, in which Mr Swamy and some others have been arrested, is related to inflammatory speeches allegedly made at a Pune conclave on December 31, 2017, which, the police claims, triggered violence the next day near the Bhima-Koregaon war memorial on the city's outskirts.
The police claimed the conclave was organised by people with alleged Maoist links.
Mr Swamy had challenged in the Bombay High Court a provision of the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), dealing with grant of bail, contending that it has created an "insurmountable hurdle" for those seeking relief.
Yesterday, the High Court extended his stay at a private hospital in Mumbai till July 6.