Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren on Wednesday, 21 October, said that Father Stan Swamy – arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from Jharkhand over his alleged links to the Elgar Parishad case – had traversed the forests of Jharkhand to guide and help tribals, Dalits and the downtrodden for decades, and is now being hassled and ill-treated for amplifying the voices of the subaltern people.
Chief Minister Soren was among many politicians, intellectuals, activists and religious leaders who had addressed a virtual press conference organised by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) to condemn the role of investigating agencies in carrying out “illegal arrests and harassment” of 16 people arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case so far.
While strongly demanding the release of Father Swamy – the most notable demand made by speakers at the virtual presser – Chief Minister Soren said that the alleged use of central agencies to meet the ‘hidden agenda of undermining the Constitution’ was worrisome and should be opposed by all.
"“Today it is Stan, tomorrow it could be your turn. Today our state is being exploited and hassled, tomorrow it could be your state. It is the responsibility of all to protect the country from this dispensation.”" - Hemant Soren, Jharkhand Chief Minister
People Have to Take a Stand: Kanimozhi
Chief Minister Soren was echoed by DMK Member of Parliament in Lok Sabha K Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, who said that although it was true that the Centre has been trying to suppress and muzzle dissenting voices, the success with which it has been able to do so was helped by the silence observed by society.
"“The people of this country have to take a stand. If we let voices be silenced using laws, if silence is our answer, in just a few years time our idea of India will undergo a change.”" - Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, DMK, Member of Parliament.
Kanimozhi warned that if the society remains silent, the powers that be will have no respect for the constitutional fabric of India and in order to ensure that this doesn’t happen, people and parties must set their differences aside and fight draconian laws, such as the UAPA.
Remove NSA, UAPA & Sedition: Yechury
Calling for the removal of the National Security Act and the UAPA as it stands now, CPM General Secretary Sitaram Yechury pointed out the laws have been “grossly misused” against those arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case, most of whom are above 60 years of age.
"“NSA, UAPA & sedition must go from the statute books...this is not an isolated issue of misuse. Instead, the larger agenda is to pave the way for a theocratic, intolerant Hindutva Rashtra.”" - Sitaram Yechury, General Secretary, CPM
Reiterating Kanimozhi’s words, Yechury said that “for evil to succeed, truth only needs to be silenced.”
Release Fr Swamy, Demands Tharoor
Congress Member of Parliament Shashi Tharoor said that Father Swamy, who has spent decades foe the upliftment of the downtrodden in Jharkhand, has been arrested without any regard for his health.
Stressing his own education at a Jesuit (an order of priests in the Roman Catholic Church) run institution, Tharoor said “no Jesuit priest can ever be guilty of violence or incitement to violence.”
"“Here is a man (Father Stan Swamy) who has studied to bring about social change and has spent decades in Jharkhand working on Dalit rights. He deserves respect and encouragement and instead, we see him in Jail.” " - Shashi Tharoor, Congress MP
Tharoor mentioned that this trend must stop now, while calling upon the government to release Father Swamy on bail.
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