New Delhi: A day after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) rejected Parkinson’s disease patient Father Stan Swamy’s plea for the return of his straw and sipper, social media users launched a campaign to send sippers themselves to the Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai. Swamy was arrested on October 8 in an alleged association to the Elgar Parishad case.
The disability rights body, National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD), also took a stand to help out Swamy and urged disability rights groups and activists to mail the sippers to the jail, the Telegraph reported.
An application was filed by the 83-year-old Swamy seeking permission to allow him a straw and sipper in prison to drink water as he is unable to hold a glass due to the Parkinson’s disease. The NIA had sought 20 days to reply to Swamy’s plea, The Wire had reported.
However, as the deadline approached, the NIA told the court that it didn’t have Stan Swamy’s sipper and straw. Special public prosecutor Prakash Shetty, representing NIA, had said, “Actually, they (Stan Swamy’s lawyers) never applied for straw and sipper. They claimed while arresting him we had recovered straw and sipper from him. We simply said that we have recovered no other articles from him.”
His lawyer Sharif Sheikh had said Swamy carried a small bag that contained a few things, including a straw and a sipper. However, those contents were not given to him on entering jail, Sheikh said.
The court will hear the matter on December 4.
The NIA’s reaction to the issue prompted social media users to take the matter into their own hands, Scroll reported.
A Mumbai resident Deepak Venkateshan posted on Facebook, urging followers to courier a sipper and straw for Swamy to Taloja Jail, since the authorities couldn’t provide them, the report said.
“Let’s flood the jail with straws and sippers. Let the world know that we are still humane as a nation. Maybe we chose the wrong leaders, but there is still humanity left in us. An 83-year-old man not getting a straw cannot be the nation we live in,” he added, as per the Scroll report.
After adding the address of the prison in his post, he wrote, “Amazon ships to the address as well and you can either send it from Amazon or do it yourself.” “The whole thing will cost less than a meal we usually order and this is the least we can do as citizens.”
The idea to help Swamy with a straw and sipper was encouraged by many on social media and it flooded with such posts with #SippersForStan.
NIA doesn't have a sipper-cup to give Fr. Stan Swamy who is being held in Taloja Prison. He's 83 yrs old, feeble & no threat to anyone.
Please open your hearts & send sipper-cups so that Fr. Stan & old detainees can sip water with dignity.
A cup is <Rs.200. Address below. 🙏🏽 pic.twitter.com/kDNyXcpn2B
— VISHAL DADLANI (@VishalDadlani) November 26, 2020
#Campaign to send #sippers & #straws to #FrStanSwamy @TalojaJail. Flood the jail. #ShameTheCourts #ShameNIA #ShameModi #ReleaseActivists @FreeFrStanSwamy @free_thinker @naukarshah @sanjivbhatt @Sudhabharadwaj @pvaravararao @anandverite @StandWithAnand @RahulGandhi @priyankagandhi pic.twitter.com/UtkKmnndIE
— Jessy Skaria (@JessySkaria) November 26, 2020
— V Dixit (@VimalD) November 27, 2020
Swamy had filed a bail application on medical grounds contending that he has almost lost his hearing ability in both ears, fallen in jail multiple times, has been operated on for a hernia twice and still has pain in his lower abdomen.
Also lodged in Taloja jail is 81-year-old activist Varavara Rao who was arrested in 2018 for alleged links to the Elgar Parishad case. Taking note of his deteriorating health, the Bombay high court on November 18 ordered that he should be shifted to the Nanavati hospital in Mumbai for 15 days. The court noted that Rao was almost on his deathbed.
Activist Sudha Bharadwaj was also arrested two years ago in August 2018 in an alleged connection to the same case. Lodged in the overcrowded Byculla Jail during a pandemic, she was recently diagnosed with heart disease, The Wire reported.