[An open letter that must be read- Editor]
Fr. Stan Swami was a Jesuit. A priest of the Catholic faith. So, who are the Jesuits? Well, the Jesuits are famous the world over for setting up and running some of the finest educational institutions of the world. In India, the young whom they have nurtured include among others Rabindranath Tagore and Abdul Kalam, scions of the Godrej, Bajaj families, many judges, ministers, bureaucrats, sportspersons, activists, press persons and persons from various other walks of life and above all a whole lot of ordinary children including the author of this article.
Those who the Jesuits moulded went out as well rounded individuals with a strong sense of the right and the wrong. That is the hallmark a of a Jesuit education. A Jesuit education is therefore considered as one of the biggest privileges of their lives by the rich and the poor alike because money or the lack of it was never an issue for a Jesuit education. Yet of the many Jesuit institutions in India, we the lacs of its ex-students of different religions and backgrounds did not do enough to prevent Fr. Stan Swami’s tragic end. Unfortunately, we all forgot our gratitude to our Alma Mater. Our silence killed Fr. Stan Swami.
A Jesuit takes about 12 years in the making. Not all who enroll to be Jesuits will become Jesuits. It is a time consuming and rigorous process of training, weeding and forging which even Fr. Stan Swami underwent. Like all things well forged, Fr. Stan also did not bend, instead like a good Jesuit, he chose to continue fighting till the very end. Till his very life was snatched away from him.
Fr. Stan Swami’s end raises a lot questions for which we have to find answers, more so because such things should never ever happen again in our India. Though too late, this will be best tribute that we can pay to this noble soul.
The so called anti-terror law called UAPA was made truly draconian with the 2019 amendment which allowed any individual to be thrown in jail and to languish there without bail. How this provision can be grossly misused has become evident from the number and type of persons arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case. That the present conviction rate is below 3% of all UAPA cases filed is in itself further testimony of the fact the UAPA is definitely being misused by the state to keep in jail any person of their choice.
In spite of the blatant attempt to provide a host of reasons to justify or cover up what happened, every Indian, nay every human being, will be perturbed by the fact that ultimately it took 21 days to allow a straw and sipper to the 83 year old Parkinsons patient. All those involved would do well to bear in mind that Parkinsons could one day afflict them too. God forbid if that happens, they will regretfully remember Fr. Stan Swami and the wrong they did to him.
Today, even a school going child knows that any expert hacker can remotely post anything on anyone’s computer. It is yet unfortunate that the courts of this country at all levels chose to close their eyes to this reality, even though cases of such hacking is continuously being seen as what is behind the incriminating documents (which is the only evidence from the NIA’s side) found one after the other on the computers of the other jailed activists in the Bhima Koregaon case. Even Fr. Stan Swami, a person who never ever visited Bhima Koregaon, had denied any knowledge of the existence of any of the incriminating documents found on his computer.
True, it might take time to verify the veracity of the above claims, even though they emanate from top IT forensic firms that work for governments and leading corporates all over the world. However, the least the courts could do till then is to begin exploring the truth in this allegation and for which the NIA should be first asked to explain. Instead, till date the accused continue to languish in jail without questioning or interrogation, thereby making the process itself the punishment in a country where a Supreme Court judge has, even in the case of a venom spewing TV anchor, said that even one day in jail can be a day too much. Is it then not a mockery of the law if it is not applied equally to all?
Whether he was a terrorist or a savior, the tribals of Jharkhand will decide. Whether he was a terrorist or not the NIA needs to prove. Whether he is guilty or not, the Courts will decide. However, whether he was dealt with fairly or not will be decided solely by the conscience of each one of us, the citizens of India. And whether he was a good human being will be decided by God almighty and not any court of law
Good bye Fr. Stan. Sorry, we the Jesuit ex students let you down by not speaking up in good time.