Stanislaus Lourduswamy : a short story of a Jesuit priest.

Jul 6, 2021 - 15:30
Jul 6, 2021 - 15:35
Stanislaus Lourduswamy : a short story of a Jesuit priest.

Stanislaus Lourduswamy (26 April 1937 – 5 July 2021), popularly known as Stan Swamy, was an Indian Roman Catholic priest, a member of the Jesuit order,[1] and a tribal rights activist for several decades.[2][3] Swamy was the oldest person to be accused of terrorism in India.[4] Fr. Stan Swamy S.J. Stan Swamy in 2010 Born Stanislaus Lourduswamy 26 April 1937 Tiruchirappalli, Madras Presidency, British India Died 5 July 2021 (aged 84) Mumbai, Maharashtra, India Occupation Catholic priest, activist Years active 1978–2021 Known for Tribal rights activism

On 8 October 2020, Swamy was arrested and chargesheeted by the National Investigation Agency under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for his alleged role in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence and links to the Communist Party of India (Maoist).[5] Jharkhand Chief minister Hemant Soren[6] and Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan[7][8][9] both objected to Swamy's arrest.


Swamy was born on 26 April 1937 and hailed from Trichy in Tamil Nadu.[10][11][12] In the 1970s, he studied theology and received a masters degree in sociology in the Philippines,[11] where he encountered a series of protests and demonstrations against the administration. During his further studies, he made friends with Brazilian Catholic Archbishop Hélder Câmara, whose work with poor people influenced him.[10]


Swamy was a former director of the Jesuit-run Indian Social Institute, Bangalore from 1975 to 1986.[13] He has questioned the non-implementation of the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution, which stipulates setting up of a Tribes Advisory Council with members solely of the Adivasi community for their protection, well-being and development in the state.[14]

In a video circulated two days ahead of his arrest, Swamy suggested his arrest was linked to his work, as it involved dissent against government policies. He is quoted as saying

What is happening to me is not something unique happening to me alone. It is a broader process that is taking place all over the country. We are all aware how prominent intellectuals, lawyers writers, poets, activists, students, leaders, they are all put into jail because they have expressed their dissent or raised questions about the ruling powers of India. We are part of the process. In a way I am happy to be part of this process. I am not a silent spectator, but part of the game, and ready to pay the price whatever be it.[15] Activism in prison

While incarcerated in Taloja central jail, in a letter to his Jesuit colleague, Swamy highlighted the plight of the prisoners stating, "Many of such poor undertrials don't know what charges have been put on them, have not seen their chargesheet and just remain in prison for years without any legal or other assistance."[16] He ended the letter saying, "But we will still sing in chorus. A caged bird can still sing."

Arrest and protests

Swamy was implicated in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence, while he claimed that he was not in Pune[18] during the said period, and he was accused of being a Maoist sympathiser. It was alleged that the Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee (PPSC) founded by him and Sudha Bharadwaj, "to fight for the release of around 3,000 men and women who have been labelled as Maoists and imprisoned",[4] was a front for Maoist fundraising. The Jesuits have denied the allegation of Fr. Stan Swamy being a Maoist, by stating that it was against the ethos of the Jesuit order.[19] He was arrested[20] by the NIA on 8 October 2020, from Bagaicha, a Jesuit social action centre,[21] and chargesheeted under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, under which bail can be denied.

The case was initially investigated by the Pune Police but later handed over to the NIA.[22][23] He was earlier arrested in June 2018 in Ranchi on similar accusations.[24] There have been widespread protests across India[25] with the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), All India Catholic Union, the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, Kerala Catholic Bishops' Conference (KCBC), Kerala Latin Catholic Association (KLCA), Kerala Jesuit Provincial,[26] Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC),[27] and the international Jesuit community,[28][15][1] calling for his release.[29][30][31] The Ranchi Catholic Church too released a statement saying it was "distressed and troubled" at the way he was arrested.[10] The arrests have been termed as politically motivated due to his work among the adivasi community, the release of undertrials, Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee[32] among others.[33] Leaders of other minority religions have also protested his arrest.[34] In a protest on 21 October 2020, leaders of opposition political parties such as Shashi Tharoor, Sitaram Yechury, D. Raja, Supriya Sule and Kanimozhi along with economist Jean Dreze, Dr Joseph Marianus Kujur, the director of the Ranchi-based Xavier Institute of Social Sciences, activists Dayamani Barla and Rupali Jadhav, and lawyer Mihir Desai called for Stan's release.

Bail and prison

The interim bail on medical grounds was rejected by the special NIA court on 23 October 2020.[37] On 6 November 2020, Swamy submitted an application to the special court requesting a straw and sipper as he was unable to hold a glass due to Parkinson's disease. The NIA requested 20 days to respond to the application.[38] On 26 November 2020, the NIA responded that they did not have Swamy's straw-sipper. Swamy also filed for bail the second time on the grounds that he was 83 years old and suffered from Parkinson's disease.[39] The Court adjourned the next hearing to 4 December 2020 while directing the jail authorities to respond to his request for straw-sipper and warm winter clothes.[40] Around 50 days after being arrested and amidst public outrage from citizens, the Taloja jail authorities provided Swamy with a sipper.[41] Activists Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira are also lodged at Taloja prison along with Stan Swamy.[18]

Swamy had applied for bail in November 2020 which was dismissed by the special NIA court on 22 March 2021.

On 28 May 2021, the Bombay High Court directed the Maharashtra government to admit Swamy to a private hospital for 15 days, considering his rapidly deteriorating health, preferably the same day of the order. He was admitted to the Holy Family Hospital, Bandra.

Illness and death

Swamy suffered from Parkinson's disease and other age-related illnesses.[12] He fell multiple times while in prison.[40] He suffered from hearing loss in both ears and had undergone surgeries.

In November 2020, in response to the delay in arranging a straw and a sipper for Swamy,[44] social media users ordered straws and sippers online, to be delivered to the NIA's Mumbai office and the Taloja jail.[45]

On 18 May 2021, in a note submitted to the Bombay High Court,[46] it was reported that Swamy was gravely ill in prison.[47] The Court ordered the formation of an expert committee to examine Swamy.[48][49] While appearing before the Court over video conferencing on 21 May 2021, Swamy refused to be admitted to either JJ hospital or any other hospital and requested only interim bail so that he could go to his home in Ranchi, citing his rapidly deteriorating health.[50] Swamy tested positive for COVID-19 in May 2021.[51]

On 4 July 2021, Swamy was put on ventilator support at Holy Family Hospital, Mumbai, as his health deteriorated.[52] He died on 5 July 2021 ahead of his bail hearing in Bombay High Court.


In January 2021, Swamy was awarded the Mukundan C. Menon award 2020 for human rights.[56]

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^ a b "Petition for Fr Stanislaus Lourdusamy". Jesuits in Britain. Retrieved 11 October 2020.

^ "NIA court to pass order on Stan Swamy bail on March 22". The Hindu. 16 March 2021 – via

^ Regi, Anjali (9 October 2020). "Fr. Stan Swamy arrested: Widespread protest". Catholic Focus. Retrieved 11 October 2020.

^ a b Biswas, Soutik (13 October 2020). "Stan Swamy: The oldest person to be accused of terrorism in India". BBC. Retrieved 13 October2020.

^ Kaur, Kamaljit. "This is what NIA's Bhima Koregaon chargesheet says about Stan Swamy". India Today. Retrieved 13 October 2020.

^ ENS (10 October 2020). "Jharkhand CM, Congress back Stan Swamy, question his arrest". New Indian Express. Retrieved 12 October 2020.

^ "'Father Stan Swamy should get justice': Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan on activist's arrest". The News Minute. 12 October 2020. Retrieved 12 October 2020.

^ "Tribal Rights Activist Fr Stan Swamy's Arrest Unfortunate:CM". News18. 12 October 2020. Retrieved 12 October 2020.

^ "Tribal Rights Activist Stan Swamy's Arrest Unfortunate: Pinarayi Vijayan". NDTV. 12 October 2020. Retrieved 13 October 2020.

^ a b c "Held by NIA over 'Maoist links', 83-yr-old priest worked for tribals, took on govt policies, and 'even the Church'". The Indian Express. 11 October 2020. Retrieved 12 October 2020.

^ a b PM, Tony; Martin, Peter. "Adivasi rights activist Stan Swamy's life and work demonstrate why the powerful want him silenced". Scroll. Retrieved 22 October 2020.

^ a b Thekaekara, Mari Marcel. "The Indomitable Spirit of Father Stan Swamy". The Wire. Retrieved 11 October 2020.

^ "Directors, Indian Social Institute". Indian Social Institute. Retrieved 11 October 2020.

^ "Explained: Who is Stan Swamy, the latest to be arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case?". The Indian Express. 10 October 2020. Retrieved 12 October 2020.

^ a b "In Solidarity with Fr. Stan Swamy, a 83 year old Jesuit arrested in India". Jesuits Global. Jesuits. Retrieved 12 October 2020.

^ Murphy, Gavin T. (26 January 2021). "Fr Stan Swamy SJ – 'A caged bird can still sing'".

^ "Father Stan Swamy pens letter on plight of other undertrials".

^ a b "Elgar Parishad case: 'Humanity is bubbling in Taloja prison'". Mumbai Mirror. 15 November 2020. Retrieved 15 November 2020.

^ a b Borges, Jane. "'He's a torchbearer of the Constitution' say father Stan Swamy's peers". Mid-Day. Retrieved 1 November 2020.

^ Shantha, Sukanya. "NIA Arrests 83-Year-Old Tribal Rights Activist Stan Swamy in Elgar Parishad Case". The Wire. Retrieved 11 October 2020.

^ "Christians seek Indian leaders' help for bail for jailed priest". Vatican News. 18 November 2020. Retrieved 27 November 2020.

^ "Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray set to withdraw Bhima-Koregaon cases against activists". Retrieved 29 August 2020.

^ "NIA took over the case from State government". Retrieved 29 August 2020.

^ "Fr Stan Swamy, priest arrested in Ranchi: 'False and fabricated' charges against me". Asia News. 9 June 2018. Retrieved 11 October 2020.

^ Barik, Satyasundar (10 October 2020). "'Stan Swamy's arrest a violation of human rights', say civil rights activists". The Hindu. Retrieved 12 October 2020.

^ ENS (11 October 2020). "Various Kerala church sects demand Father Stan Swamy's release". New Indian Express. Retrieved 12 October 2020.

^ "Asian bishops' solidarity with jailed Indian Jesuit". Vatican News. 26 October 2020. Retrieved 29 November 2020.

^ "Jesuits Demand Immediate Release of Fr. Stan Swamy, SJ". The Jesuits. Retrieved 23 October 2020.

^ "Catholic union calls for Father Stan Swamy's release". Deccan Herald. 10 October 2020. Retrieved 11 October 2020.

^ "PUCL Condemns the Detention and Arrest of Fr. Stan Swamy in Bhima Koregaon Case". Counter Currents. People's Union For Civil Liberties. 8 October 2020.

^ "CBCI seeks release of Stan Swamy". The Indian Express. 11 October 2020. Retrieved 12 October2020.

^ and Debmalya, Rajendran Narayanan (3 September 2018). "Father Stan Swamy, Children and the Unholy State". The Wire. Retrieved 12 October 2020

^ Raj S.J., Fr. J. Felix (12 October 2020). "Stan Swamy's arrest 'politically motivated'". Telegraph India. Retrieved 12 October 2020.

^ Mazumdar, Jhinuk (18 October 2020). "Other brothers behind Stan Swamy". Telegraph India.

^ Dasgupta, Sravasti (21 October 2020). "MPs Tharoor, Sule, Kanizmozhi join 8 others to seek UAPA repeal, release of Stan Swamy". The Print. Retrieved 21 October 2020.

^ ""Time To Break The Silence": Opposition Leaders Condemn Stan Swamy's Arrest". Press Trust of India. 21 October 2020. Retrieved 21 October 2020.

^ "Court rejects bail plea of Stan Swamy". The Hindu. 23 October 2020. Retrieved 24 October2020.

^ Saigal, Sonam (6 November 2020). "Stan Swamy files plea to allow use of straw, sipper in Taloja jail". The Hindu. Retrieved 16 November 2020.

^ Joshi, Neha (27 November 2020). "[Bhima Koregaon] Not likely to jump bail, arrest malafide: Father Stan Swamy moves Special NIA Court for bail". Bar And Bench. Retrieved 27 November2020.

^ a b Roy, Divyanshu Dutta (26 November 2020). "Not Till December. Stan Swamy's Wait For A Straw And Sipper Extended". NDTV. Retrieved 26 November 2020.

^ Ganapatye, Shruti (29 November 2020). "Stan Swamy gets a sipper, finally". Mumbai Mirror. Retrieved 29 November 2020.

^ Hakim, Sharmeen. "BREAKING : NIA Court Refuses Bail To Stan Swamy In Bhima Koregaon Case". Livelaw. Retrieved 22 March 2021.

^ "Bombay HC directs prison authorities to shift SwamySwamy to Holy Family Hospital". 29 May 2021.

^ "NIA says it didn't seize Stan Swamy's straw and sipper". The Hindu. 29 November 2020. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 5 July 2021.

^ "Why people are posting orders of straws and sippers for arrested tribal activist Stan Swamy". The Indian Express. 28 November 2020. Retrieved 5 July 2021.

^ Hakim, Sharmeen (19 May 2021). "'Ayurvedic Doctor At Prison Prescribed Allopathic Antipsychotic Drug' :Stan Swamy Tells Bombay High Court".

^ "'Shift jailed Stan Swamy to hospital': Jharkhand rights group to Maharashtra govt". The New Indian Express.

^ "Elgaar Parishad case: Bombay HC directs Stan Swamy's health check-up at J J Hospital". 19 May 2021.

^ Saigal, Sonam (19 May 2021). "Send Stan Swamy to hospital for check-up on Thursday: Bombay High Court". The Hindu – via

^ Hakim, Sharmeen (21 May 2021). "'I Would Rather Suffer, Possibly Die Very Shortly If This Were To Go On' : Stan Swamy Pleads For Interim Bail In Bombay HC".

^ Saigal, Sonam (30 May 2021). "Fr. Stan Swamy tests positive for COVID-19". The Hindu – via

^ "Elgaar Parishad case: Stan Swamy put on ventilator support as health deteriorates". 4 July 2021.

^ "Fr. Stan Swamy passes away". The Hindu. Special Correspondent. 5 July 2021. ISSN 0971-751X. Retrieved 5 July 2021.

^ "Elgar Parishad Case: Activist Stan Swamy, 84, Passes Away Ahead of Hearing on Bail Plea". News18. 5 July 2021. Retrieved 5 July 2021.

^ "Tribal activist Stan Swamy dies at 84". 5 July 2021. Retrieved 5 July 2021. ^ "Award for Fr. Stan Swamy". The Hindu. 25 January 2021 – via

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