‘Humanity is bubbling’: Jailed activist Stan Swamy in letter to friends

Last week, Swamy sought a sipper and a straw to drink water because of his Parkison’s disease.

Mumbai: Jailed human rights activist and Father Stan Swamy, who is presently lodged in Taloja prison in Mumbai, has written a letter to his friends. The letter, which is now being widely shared, comes days after the octogenarian activist’s request for a sipper was deferred by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) for 20 days.

The letter describes the sorry state at the Taloja prison where he is currently lodged. The letter, however, ends in hope.

“Despite all odds, humanity is bubbling at Taloja prison,” he wrote.

In his letter, the ailing 83-year-old catholic priest from Jharkhand, who was arrested over alleged Maoist links, has described how his co-accused and cellmates have been helping him in jail.

Last week, Swamy sought a sipper and a straw to drink water because of his Parkison’s disease by filing an application in the court. The court scheduled a hearing of the application on November 28, as the prosecution sought 20 days to respond to the request. Several took to social media in Swamy’s support.

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In the letter, an excerpt of which was shared by his friend John Dayal on Facebook, Swamy thanked his well-wishers and supporters. “Though I do not have many details, from what I have heard, I am grateful to have all of you for expressing your solidarity support.”

Swamy said in the letter that he was being held in a small cell in Navi Mumbai’s Taloja Central Jail along with two other inmates, while activists Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira were in another cell. “During the day, when cells and barracks are opened, we meet with each other.”

They are all in prison in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence case. Swamy, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, wrote, “Arun assists me to have my breakfast and lunch. Vernon helps me with bath.”

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“From 5.30 pm to 06.00 am and 12 noon to 03.00 pm, I am locked up in my cell, with two inmates.” He added that they help out during supper, washing clothes and giving massage to his knee joints. “They are from very poor families,” he wrote.

Stan Swamy was arrested by the NIA in Ranchi on October 8 and was brought to Mumbai the next day. They had alleged that Swamy is a member of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), and was involved in a conspiracy to instigate caste violence in the Bhima Koregaon village near Pune in 2018. He has been in judicial custody since October 9.

On October 23, a special NIA court had denied Swamy’s interim bail plea on health grounds.

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