Elgar Parishad case: Stan Swamy’s bail plea rejected by NIA court

Swamy has been working and writing on the land struggles and displacement of Adivasis.

NIA

A Special Court dealing with cases investigated by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday refused to grant bail to Father Stan Swamy in relation the Bhima Koregaon violence that broke out in 2018.

Swamy was arrested from his house in Ranchi on October 8 for his alleged role in inciting riots at Bhima Koregaon in 2018. He was later remanded to judicial custody and lodged in Taloja jail.

The 83-year-old Ranchi resident has been lodged in Taloja Central Jail for the past five months.

The NIA had arrested Swamy on October 7 from Ranchi, brought him to Mumbai the next day and filed a chargesheet against him and seven others. He has been in judicial custody since then.

Swamy had sought bail primarily on medical grounds along with the merits of the case.

In his bail plea, Swamy had said that his arrest was “uncalled for” and “malafide”. He also said that his custody was not sought for over two years after the FIR was filed, which showed that he was not considered a flight risk or someone who would tamper with evidence.

His lawyer Sharif Shaikh submitted that the octogenarian suffers from Parkinson’s disease, and highlighted how he had to be shifted to the prison hospital due to health reasons.

The 31-page bail plea, filed through his lawyer Sharif Shaikh in November, had also said that Swamy has been targetted by the investigating agency due to the “nature of his writings and work” about “caste and land struggles of the people in India and violation of the democractic rights of the marginalised citizens of India”.

Swamy’s lawyer claimed that the evidence allegedly relied upon by the NIA was correspondence with various people to seek legal aid for Swamy’s organisation, Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee (PPSC), which works for undertrial Adivasis and Dalits falsely accused as Maoists.

Nothing was found after two raids were subsequently conducted at Swamy’s residence. In fact, the Pune Police had also stated on record in a plea filed by Swamy in Bombay High Court that the “they had no intention of arresting him, as he was not an accused.”

The NIA chargesheet filed against Swamy had claimed that he is a member of banned organization CPI (Maoist), and that he was given the responsibility of spreading its activities after the arrest of many party members. Purportedly, Swamy was a staunch supporter of organisations like Vistapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan and People’s Union for Civil Liberties involved in activities for CPI (Maoists), it was submitted.

Swamy, who run an NGO in Jharkhand, had denied this stating that the evidence found on his laptop can be “easily manipulated and planted on an insecure digital divide”.

The bail plea also said that he was nowhere connected to the organisation of the Elgar Parishad event on December 31, 2017, which the NIA claims was linked to the violence in Bhima Koregaon the next day. The NIA, through special public prosecutor Prakash Shetty, had said that Swamy was found to be convening meetings held to condemn the arrest of the others in the case and alleged that there was evidence of his NGO receiving foreign funds.

In October last year, Swamy had sought interim bail referring to the guidelines by the state’s High Powered Committee appointed on directions of the Supreme Court recommending decongestion of jails during the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

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