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STAN BY ME

The blighted & blinded citizens of India need hundreds of Fr Stan Swamy to show the way

JULY 8. The first consignment of red stones arrives at Ayodhya for the laying of the foundation of the Ram janmabhoomi, which Hindus have won over their centuries-old bête noire, the Muslims. Saints and seers, and maybe a handful of the hoi polloi deceived by the zealots currently ruling the State, showered flowers as the consignment proceeded towards its destination.
JULY 5. Fr Stan Swamy dies. He was nobody, actually, to the nation. But for hundreds of tribals in Jharkhand who are fighting against the upper castes and a repressive State, he was the father who protected their lives and rights.
The spiritually enlightened godmen of the country neither shed a drop of tear nor came out to shower flowers on Swamy’s dead body. Fr Stan was also a god’s messenger, a Jesuit priest though, and deserved more respect and adulation than Lord Ram, an epitome of the dominating patriarchy in the mainstream Indian society.
The social media was in furore over 84-year-old Fr Swamy’s death. And some also dared to ask why some chief ministers should condole the death of a person who was accused in a criminal case.
For those who are unaware of what Swamy was accused of, there is a brief: Fr Stan was arrested in 2020, when the pandemic was at its peak, in connection with the Elgar Parishad/Bhima Koregaon case. The National Investigation Agency, dreaded as the NIA, alleged that he had connection with the Maoists, an outlawed outfit. So far, 15 (excluding Swamy) arrests have been made since 2018 in connection with the case and all of them, at some point of time, had spoken against the current central government’s tyranny. Those who are unaware of Bhima Koregaon, Google search engine can be a help, but be cautious about the fake news fed by the bigot government.
Swamy was arrested in Ranchi last October by NIA and was brought to Mumbai the next day. Apparently, the investigating minds found anti-national documents in Swamy’s computer, which he vehemently refused and said those were fabricated. In fact, he had categorically said that he was not the only one being targeted by the State and anyone “who stand for the rights of adivasis, Dalits and the marginalised and express their dissent to the ruling powers of the country are being targeted”.
But the blighted nation chose to be deaf and dumb and allowed the government to continue with its atrocity. At the same time, it became a part of blind and superstitious religious credences. While genuine human rights activists remained incarcerated, the propagators of Hindutva (which has nothing to do with the philosophy of Hinduism) continued with their madness.
The nation, meanwhile, kept itself busy with the pandemic. The national media took the opportunity to excuse itself from harping on the truth. Some succour if you may please: The photograph of a handful of activists in Ahmedabad standing in solidarity with Swamy in front of a hoarding displaying the smiling faces of Narendra Modi and his partner in crime, Amit Shah.
Fr Swamy’s death was not natural. He was murdered, as was the conscience of the nation when the saffron brigade took over with the chants of “Jai Shri Ram”. The “murder” was a concerted effort to silence every dissenting voice in the country. It was a message sent out by the tyrant government to its citizens, “Silence or death.”
The message was strong enough to silence a generation who basked in the ersatz glory of development and economic growth (in reality, there was no growth). The judiciary too went into a slumber and rejected every plea to free Swamy or provide him the basic rights as a citizen of a democratic country.
The powerful in the country was scared that Swamy might be successful in educating the vulnerable about their rights and the State’s injustice. The wily politicians shuddered thinking that Swamy would finally bring together the marginalised on one platform and provoke them to raise their voices against the decades-old atrocities against them. But do not blame one party, or a single government, as the injustice is being meted out to the so-called “forest-dwellers” and the “uncivilised” for years now. The insatiable greed of the rich combined with corrupt political intentions have not only ruined tribal life in Jharkhand but also in other parts of the country, including the North East.
In Meghalaya, the number of landless tribals is on the rise thanks to the greed of politicians who are perpetually hand in gloves with rich businessmen. In other states of the region too, the poor have been rendered poorer as corruption exceeded the level of endurance. But is anyone listening to the cries of the helpless? Does anyone care to look at their plight? Not really.
Today, we feel the void that Fr Swamy has left behind. Today, we need hundreds of Fr Swamy to stand by the marginalised and be vocal against the oppressive government in every state. Today, the nation needs a reincarnation of the Jesuit priest. Today, we need to end the slumber and scream out, “Justice and equality.”

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