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New Delhi: St. Aloysius College, a private educational institution in Mangaluru on Saturday, October 9, postponed its decision to name one of its parks after the Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist Stan Swamy who died in July 2021, Indian Express has reported.
The decision was made by the college’s administration after facing fierce opposition and threats of protests from right-wing Hindu organisations, which labelled Swamy as an ‘urban Naxal’. The college wanted to name the park after Swamy as a tribute to his lifelong efforts to improve the lives of tribals and poor sections of society.
Swamy was arrested on October 8 last year over what the NIA claimed was his involvement in the Elgar Parishad case, which has been described as a witch-hunt against critics of the government. Swamy was the 16th person to be arrested in the case and also the oldest.
At the time of his arrest, he was frail and ailing and had an advanced stage of Parkinson’s disease. He had difficulty in even sipping water from a glass and was dependent on co-prisoners in jail. However, he was unable to obtain bail due to the stringent provisions of the UAPA and died in jail on July 5 after contracting COVID-19.
As per the report, Melwin Joseph Pinto, the rector of St. Aloysius institutions and vice-president of the Mangalore Jesuit Educational Society will make a decision on the issue after further consultation with other stakeholders. He said, “We are now going to hold discussions with members of the management to take a call. We are not sure of naming the park after Swamy at this point of time.”
Pinto, while seeking more time, has denied the charges against Stan Swamy, says the report. Pinto asserted that he has personally worked with Swamy who has made enormous contributions to the empowerment of tribal people across the country, especially in Jharkhand.
According to the report, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), Bajrang Dal and Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad (ABVP) were among the organisations opposing the decision of the college. These right-wing forums said that though Stan Swamy is dead, he was arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) and “was facing serious allegations which haven’t been yet cleared.”