Panaji, Oct 13 (PTI) The Goa Church on Tuesday demanded the Union government immediately release tribal rights activist and Jesuit priest Father Stan Swamy who was arrested for his alleged role in inciting a mob to violence in Koregaon Bhima near Pune in Maharashtra on January 1, 2018.
The Council for Social Justice and Peace (CSJP), a wing of the Goa Church, has issued a statement demanding that rights and privileges of citizens of all faiths be safeguarded.
CSJP director Fr Savio Fernandes alleged attempts are being made 'to brand Christians as anti-nationals and manufacture grounds to deny them their political space and curtail democratic rights and privileges'.
Eighty-three-old Swamy was arrested from his home in Ranchi on last Thursday.
'The government must ensure that the rights, duties and privileges of citizens across religions are safeguarded, and an atmosphere of peace and harmony in society is ensured,' Fernandes stated.
He said Swamy's arrest by the NIA was in 'total disregard to the dignity and rights' of the human rights crusader.
'It is wellknown that the Catholic priesthas devoted almost five decades of his life in lobbying and advocating for the rights of the Adivasis, especially their land rights in the State of Jharkhand,' he stated.
Fernandes further said that Swamy's spiritual and social work cannot be equated with any political ideology and militant organisation.
He said the 'humiliation and harassment' meted out to Swamy 'gives the impression of a vicious design of the Union government to target the progressive work of the Christian community'.
'There is now an apprehension in the community that by falsely implicating and dragging Fr Swamy into an alleged criminal conspiracy of a political organisation, there is an attemptto brand Christians as anti-nationals and manufacture grounds to deny them their political space and curtail democratic rights and privileges,' Fr Fernandes added.
A number of activists including Gautam Navlakha had been arrested earlier for their alleged involvement in inciting a mob to violence in Koregaon Bhima.
They were arrested during the course of the investigation into the violence on January 1, 2018 in which one person was killed and several injured after clashes at the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Koregaon near Pune.
Pune Police has alleged the violence was caused following provocative speeches by members of the group Elgar Parishad the day before on December 31, 2017. PTI RPS NSK NSK