Pune Police Raid 83-Year-Old Tribal Rights Activist Stan Swamy’s House, Force Him To Give His Soc Med Passwords
Swamy, who lives in Ranchi, has been been working for the rights of Adivasis and other underprivileged groups in Jharkhand for years.
Pune police on Wednesday, June 12, searched social activist Father Stan Swamy’s residence at Ranchi in Jharkhand as part of an ongoing investigation into the Bhima Koregaon case in which nine activists were earlier arrested for their alleged links with Maoists. Cops claimed to have seized some “electronic devices and other material”.
Reportedly, an eight-member team led by Assistant Commissioner of Police Shivaji Pawar, the investigation officer in the case, searched the 83-year-old tribal rights activist’s home at around 7:15 am and continued the raid for more than three-and-a-half hours. The police allegedly took Swamy’s hard disk and internet modem and forced him to give his email and Facebook passwords. After that, they changed the passwords and seized these accounts, claim the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a coalition of rights organisations in the state.
“Our team conducted a search at Swamy’s residence in Ranchi as part of the ongoing probe into the Elgar Parishad case. So far, we have seized some electronic devices and other material from his residence,” a senior police official told PTI, adding that Swamy had not been detained so far.
This is the second such raid on the Swamy’s house since August 2018.
The Pune police earlier filed a charge-sheet against the nine activists – Sudhir Dhavale, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson, Vara Vara Rao, Arun Ferriera , Sudha Bharadwaj and Vernon Gonzalves. The charge sheet also named absconding Maoist leaders Dipak alias Milind Teltumbade, Kishan Da alias Prashant Bose, Prakash alias Rituparn Goswami, and CPI (Maoist) general secretary Ganapathy alias Chandrashekhar.
The accused were charged with “waging war against the nation” and spreading the ideology of their banned organisation and creating caste conflicts, disaffection, and hatred in the society.
The stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) was also slapped on all the accused, the police said.
Condemning the raid, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha said that it was “shocked by the intimidation and arrests of activists and public intellectuals who are critical of the government and the ruling party at the Centre.”
Maharashtra police at Stan Swamy's residence in Namkum (Jharkhand), searching his room in connection with Bhima Koregaon. His residence was also raided last year on 28 August. pic.twitter.com/ZWxQOogZX2
— Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (@JharkhandJanad1) June 12, 2019
The group’s statement further added, “The central government and media houses close to the BJP claim that the human rights activists were part of a Maoist conspiracy related to the Bhima-Koregaon incident. This concocted story seems to be part of a larger propaganda, based on terms like ‘urban Naxals’, aimed at stifling any criticism of the government. The raids and arrests are part of the government’s growing attempts to stifle dissent and intimidate those who are fighting for justice.”
Swamy has been working for the rights of Adivasis and other underprivileged groups in Jharkhand for years. Among other issues, he has worked on displacement, corporate loot of resources, the condition of undertrials accused of being or helping Maoists and the Panchayats Extensions to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act, 1996.
Per the Mahasabha, “Stan has been a vocal critic of the government’s attempts to amend land laws and the land acquisition act in Jharkhand, and a strong advocate of the Forest Rights Act, PESA and related laws.”
(With PTI inputs)