Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday termed as “unfortunate” the arrest of tribal rights activist and Jesuit priest Father Stan Swamy for his alleged involvement in inciting a mob to violence in Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1, 2018.
Vijayan said the arrest of Swamy, who has been supporting tribal agitations for land and their rights inside the forest, was a move to muzzle the dissenting voices.
“It’s unfortunate that tribal rights activist and Jesuit priest Fr Stan Swamy was arrested and jailed. He has been working among the tribals for decades. It’s against the principles of Indian Constitution to arrest those who raise their voice against the butchering of democratic rights of the tribals,” Vijayan said in a Facebook post.
Eighty-three-old Swamy, who said he has never been to Bhima Koregaon, was arrested from his home in Ranchi on Thursday evening and taken to Mumbai where he was produced before a court on Friday and remanded to judicial custody till October 23.
The chief minister said there are allegations that the investigative agencies were misused and sought the intervention of authorities concerned in the issue. “There are allegations that the arrest was a move to muzzle the voices of dissent,” Vijayan said, expressing his concern over the health of Swamy, a Keralite.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Friday filed a charge-sheet against eight people, including activists Gautam Navlakha and Swamy, for their alleged involvement in inciting a mob to violence in Bhima Koregaon, officials said.
They were arrested during the course of the investigation into the violence on January 1, 2018 in which one person was killed and several injured after clashes at the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Koregaon near Pune.
Pune Police has alleged the violence was caused following provocative speeches by members of the group Elgar Parishad the day before on December 31, 2017.