A day after activist Stan Swamy's death in custody, senior opposition politicians, including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar and Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee, have written to President Ram Nath Kovind demanding the release of all activists jailed in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon case.
"We are urging your immediate intervention as the President of India to direct 'your government' to act against those responsible for foisting false cases on him (Stan Swamy), his continued detention in jail and inhuman treatment. They must be held accountable. It is now incumbent that all those jailed in the Bhima Koregaon case and other detenues under politically motivated cases, misusing draconian laws like UAPA, sedition etc be released forthwith," the letter reads.
Stan Swamy, an 84-year-old priest-activist arrested under an anti-terror law in the Elgar Parishad case last year, died on Monday in the middle of his fight for bail on health grounds. The Jesuit priest had been on a ventilator since Sunday when his health worsened.
Jailed near Mumbai since October, Stan Swamy had spent the last few months of his life fighting legal battles for even the smallest of needs.
"We the undersigned leaders of major opposition parties are writing to you in deep anguish expressing our intense grief and outrage at the death of Father Stan Swamy under custody," the letter signed by ten opposition leaders read.
Apart from the three leaders, MK Stalin, Hemant Soren, HD Deve Gowda, Farooq Abdullah, Tejaswi Yadav, D Raja and Sitaram Yechury also signed the letter.
The leaders alleged the activist had been jailed under "trumped up charges under the draconian UAPA" and had been denied treatment for his ailments including Parkinson's disease.
Several prominent activists, scholars and lawyers have been in jail for over two years awaiting trial over allegations that they instigated riots in Bhima-Koregaon near Pune in January 2018, when thousands of people had gathered to mark the 200th anniversary of a military win of Dalit soldiers over a so-called upper-caste force in colonial India.