Rights

After 20 Days, NIA Says It Doesn't Have Stan Swamy's Sipper and Straw

A special NIA court has now asked the concerned medical officer in the Taloja jail to look into the 83-year-old's request.

New Delhi: The special NIA court in Mumbai on Thursday asked the concerned medical officer in the Taloja jail to look into a request filed by father Stan Swamy to provide him with a straw and sipper, along with winter clothes, according to LiveLaw.

The development came after the NIA informed the court that it does not have the straw or sipper because it did not have any of Swamy’s belongings.

Swamy, a tribal rights activist who suffers from Parkinson’s disease, was arrested last month in the Elgar Parishad case and is currently lodged in the Taloja jail’s hospital.

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.

Special public prosecutor Prakash Shetty, representing NIA, 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.”

Advocate Sharif Shaikh appeared on behalf of Stan Swamy. The matter will be next heard on December 4.

An NIA official said that since Swamy was sent directly to Taloja central prison, his belongings were deposited at the prison. “We did not have his belongings,” the senior NIA officer said. The agency took over three weeks just to state this basic information. Meanwhile, Swamy had been using a baby feeder bought from the prison canteen, which he mentioned in one of his recent letters.

Swamy’s lawyer also moved a fresh bail application Thursday, this time based on the merits of the case. “The applicant (Swamy) is innocent and has been falsely implicated in the present case, he has nothing to do with the alleged offence,” his bail application states.

The bail application notes that the arrest was made on the basis of an FIR registered by one Tushar Damgude, who had accused the organisers of the Elgar Parishad event of inciting violence at Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018. Since Swamy was not named in the case, the NIA has not accused him of participating in the event, following which Swamy’s lawyers challenged his arrest in the bail application.

Swamy was the sixteenth human rights defender to be arrested in the case under the Unlawful (Activities) Prevention Act. The case, earlier investigated by the Pune Police, was handed over to the NIA in January this year. The entire case is based on the alleged electronic evidence found on the laptops of some accused. “The whole case is based on some documents found on the laptop of the applicant. The prosecution has selectively chosen a few documents to create a story against him,” his bail application claims.

Swamy’s request for bail on medical grounds was rejected on October 22. He had filed an interim bail application on medical grounds, citing his age, pre-existing comorbidities and the COVID-19 pandemic. Swamy has almost lost hearing in both his ears and has fallen in the prison multiple times, reports said. Apart from that, he has also been operated for hernia twice and complains of pain in his lower abdomen.