“We are saddened to learn of the death of Father Stan Swamy, a tireless advocate for the human rights of disadvantaged communities,” the spokesperson said…reports Asian Lite News.
The US regularly took up with the Indian government the detention of Stan Swamy, who worked to “make the world a more just place”, according to a State Department spokesperson.
“The US regularly raised Swamy’s case with the Indian government as a part of our regular consultations on human rights and other bilateral issues,” the spokesperson said on Tuesday.
Swamy, an 84-year-old Catholic Jesuit priest who had campaigned for Adivasi’s rights, died on Monday while his bail application was pending with the Bombay High Court. He was detained by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) while probing allegations that he was linked to Maoists.
“We are saddened to learn of the death of Father Stan Swamy, a tireless advocate for the human rights of disadvantaged communities,” the spokesperson said.
“Our condolences go out to Father Swamy’s family and all those with whom he worked and mentored to make the world a more just place for us all.”
The spokesperson did give details of when and at what levels the US had discussed Swamy’s detention.
Swamy’s detention by the NIA was mentioned in the State Department’s 2020 International Freedom Report released in May.
It recalled that he was arrested “on sedition charges in connection with a violent demonstration that resulted in several deaths” and “his communication with others during detention was strictly regulated”.
The Indian government has defended its treatment of Swamy and dismissed international criticism.
Earlier reacting to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michele Bachelet’s statement that she was “deeply saddened and disturbed” by his death, Indian External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said he was held under “due process of law” and added: “Authorities in India act against violations of law and not against legitimate exercise of rights. All such actions are strictly in accordance with the law.”
Indian Overseas Congress-US has said that Sway’s death was a “sad day for democracy”.
The organisation’s Vice President Geroge Abraham also called for the release of activist Sudha Bharadwaj and others on bail while awaiting charges.
Govt rebuts UN
The government on Tuesday strongly rebutted the allegation leveled by international human rights groups that Father Stan Swamy, who passed away on Monday, was detained illegally.
The United Nations Human Rights on Tuesday issued a statement on his death and detention, criticising India. The international body tweeted, “We are saddened and disturbed by the death of 84-year-old human rights defender Father Stan Swamy, after prolonged pre-trial detention. With Covid-19, it is even more urgent that states release every person detained without sufficient legal basis.”
In a statement issued by the government, Arindam Bagchi, the spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs, said that Stan Swamy was arrested and detained by the National Investigation Agency following the due process under law. Because of the specific nature of the charges against him, his bail applications were rejected by the courts.
“Authorities in India act against violations of law and not against legitimate exercise of rights. All such actions are strictly in accordance with the law,” the statement said.
Explaining the details of the case, the government said that in view of Stan Swamy’s ailing health, the Bombay High Court had allowed his medical treatment at a private hospital where he was receiving all possible treatment and was being closely monitored by the courts. He passed away following medical complications, the government said.