USCIRF condemns death of Stan Swamy

Washington, July 09 (KMS): The US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has condemned the “deliberate neglect” by the government of India that it said led to the death of Jesuit priest, Stan Swamy.

Swamy, 84, who was arrested last year under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) in connection with the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, died at a Mumbai hospital on Monday.

The USCIRF Chair, Nadine Maenza, in a statement issued in Washington said, “Father Stan Swamy’s death is a stark reminder of the egregious and ongoing persecution of India’s religious minority communities.”

The USCIRF condemns “in strongest terms the deliberate neglect and targeting by the government of India that led to the death of Father Stan Swamy,” the statement said.

India had earlier rejected its criticism by the USCIRF, terming its observations on the condition of minorities and religious freedom in the country as “biased and tendentious”.

USCIRF Commissioner Anurima Bhargava said that the commission is deeply saddened and appalled by the death of Swamy. “For years, he fought for the rights and dignity of low-caste and poor people across India,” she said.

“Father Swamy died in the custody of Indian authorities who targeted him for giving voice to the human rights concerns of Adivasis and other low-caste, religious and poor communities,” Bhargava said. “The Indian government held him for these past months, without any trial or conviction, despite lack of credible evidence on the charges filed against him, his deteriorating health, and global calls for his release,” she added.