Skip to main content

Mostly Dalits, Adivasis, 97% undertials 'falsely' accused, release them, demands JMM

Counterview Desk 

Making the 84th birth anniversary of Father Stan Swamy – the veteran Adivasi rights Jesuit priest languishing Taloja Jail, Maharashtra, for about four months for his alleged role in Bhima Koregaon violence – as the occasion, the Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM), a civil rights organisation, has demanded that “lakhs of undertrials with no justice in sight” should be released immediately.
Pointing out that Stan Swamy too is an undertrial, JMM said, was involved in a study carried out in 2014-16, which revealed that about 97 percent of the surveyed undertrial prisoners “were falsely accused of being Maoists”. In its media alert, JJM added, even the Government of India admitted in Parliament that only 2.2% of the undertrials arrested under the “fabricated” Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) charges were convicted in 2016-19.

Text:

Stan Swamy, a Jesuit priest who has worked tirelessly for the rights of Adivasis and other underprivileged people in Jharkhand for more than three decades, is languishing at Mumbai’s Taloja Jail since more than six months. Today, he turns 84 years old.
Stan was arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on 8 October 2020. There is increasing proof on how fabricated evidence (fake documents connecting them with maoist activities etc.) was used in this case to target activists and voices of dissent. Stan has Parkinson’s disease with severe tremors in both hands. He has other health ailments as well.
Stan is a symbol of the plight of the lakhs of undertrial prisoners who languish in jail for years under fabricated Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) charges, often aimed at harassing those who stand up for the underprivileged or challenge government anti-people policies. Most of the UAPA charges are baseless, as their conviction rate between 2016-19 was only 2.2 percent, as mentioned by the central government in the Parliament.
Ironically, over the past few years, Stan did much work on undertrial prisoners in Jharkhand. In 2014-16, he led a study, which revealed that about 97 percent of the surveyed undertrial prisoners were falsely accused of being Maoists. Most of the undertrials were Adivasis, dalits or backwards. Many were vocal against injustice and exploitation in their own villages. In 2017, Stan filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Jharkhand High Court to ask for the details of all undertrials in the state (such as caste composition, reasons for delay in trial and so on) and seek accountability. Jharkhand government is yet to respond to the query.
Moreover, there are studies that show that nearly 70 per cent of all prisoners in India are undertrials. However, due to the uncertain and prolonged delays in their trials and lengthy procedures of the legal system, many of them are languishing in prisons without even being proven guilty. Moreover, the families of many of the undertrial prisoners have been pushed into poverty due to the legal expenditures incurred in release attemps and prolonged absence of one of their principal breadwinners.
Also, in the current wave of the pandemic, many prisoners across the country are getting infected with Covid-19. The youngest of the Bhima-Koregaon accused, Jyoti Jagdap has tested positive for Covid-19. Despite being at high risk, Stan Swamy is yet to get the first vaccine dose. It is inhuman to let undertrials stay in overcrowded prisons during the current pandemic. The massive failure of the Modi government in handling the pandemic stands exposed. The time, energy and resources it spent on targeting activists, creating fabricated cases, crushing dissent and weakening democratic institutions could have been used for preparing defences against the pandemic.
When an elderly and ailing person, with no history of violence, is made to spend his 84th birthday as an imprisoned undertrial, Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha demands from the central and state governments the immediate release of Stan Swamy and all undertrial prisoners in the country. Mahasabha also appeals to people to join this call.

Comments

TRENDING

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

WHO move can 'enable' India to detain citizens, restrict freedom, control media

Counterview Desk  In an an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with copies to concerned Cabinet ministers, bureaucrats and MPs,  health rights network  People’s Alliance for Public Health (PAPH alias JanSwasthya Morcha), has urged that India should not be a signatory to the World Health Organization ( WHO) Pandemic Agreement and Amendments to the  International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005  to be adopted at the 77th World Health Assembly in Geneva from 27th May to 1st June, 2024.

'Enough evidence': Covid vaccines impacted women's reproductive health

By Deepika*  In 2024, the news outlets have suddenly started reporting about covid vaccine side effects in a very extensive manner. Sadly, the damage is already done.

Can scientists believe in God, yet explore nature 'abandoning' belief?

By Dr TV Sajeev*  In August 2023, India celebrated the successful soft-landing of Chandrayan on the south pole of the moon. That mission too led to some questioning about whether scientists could believe in God. The culture of temple visits and poojas before the launch of rockets with or without payload had been a mocking point for a long while. 

Growing stream of pollution infecting homes, bodies in US, Vietnam

By Erica Cirino*  Louisiana’s “River Parishes,” located along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, shoulder some of the worst industry impacts in the United States. As a result, this region has acquired a grim reputation as “ Cancer Alley .” 

'Uncertainty in Iran': Raisi brokered crucial Chabahar Port deal with India

By Pranjal Pandey*  Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian President, and the country’s foreign minister were tragically found deceased on May 20, 2024, shortly after their helicopter crashed in foggy conditions. In response, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei swiftly appointed a relatively unknown vice president as the interim leader.

Informal, outdoor workers 'excluded': Govt of India's excessive heat policies

Counterview Desk  Top civil rights network, National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), has demanded urgent government action to protect millions of outdoor workers from extreme heat and heatwaves, insisting declaration of heatwaves as climatic disaster.