A Pune police team on Wednesday searched the residence of human rights activist Father Stan Swamy in Ranchi in connection with the Bhima Koregaon–Elgaar Parishad case and for his alleged Maoist links. This was the second time the city police raided his house in Ranchi’s Namkum area.
While electronic devices, including a hard disk and some other materials, were seized, the 83-year-old activist was not taken into custody.
The Pune police were assisted by the Ranchi police in the search that lasted nearly three hours, said sources.
Ashutosh Sekhar, Superintendent of Police, Ranchi (Rural), told The Hindu, “The search began after 7 a.m. and lasted nearly two-and-a-half to three hours. The Maharashtra police team took some electronic material and some documents. They will examine this material and decide on the future course of action.”
The previous raid
Raids were conducted by the police at Fr. Swamy’s residence on August 28 last along with that of six other academics and activists known for their dissentious views against the powers that be.
Assistant Commissioner of Police (Swargate division) Shivaji Pawar, the investigating officer in the case, told The Hindu that the police seized some electronic devices and other material from Fr. Swamy’s house. “We have not taken him into custody. We conducted this operation for gathering more evidence as a part of the ongoing investigation in the case. The materials seized will be sent for probe,” he said.
Fr. Swamy runs a school for Adivasi children and a technical training institute in his residential premises. A vocal critic of the Jharkhand government, he is known for his work among the tribal people of the State through his NGO, Bagaicha.
In 2016, he released an expose following a Jharkhand undertrials’ study, which showed that an overwhelming majority of the tribal people languishing in jails were falsely implicated and arrested for daring to protest against the violation of their constitutional and human rights.
On August 28 last, the houses of activists Sudha Bharadwaj, P. Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde were raided, along with that of Fr. Swamy as part of the second crackdown by the Pune police on alleged ‘Maoist sympathisers’ as part of their investigation into the Bhima-Koregaon clashes.
Four of them, including Ms. Bharadwaj, Mr. Rao, Mr. Gonsalves and Mr. Ferreira are now lodged in the city’s Yerwada Jail.
Last year’s crackdown
On June 6 last year, the city police, in its first nationwide crackdown in the case, arrested five activists, including Dalit publisher Sudhir Dhawale, advocate Surendra Gadling, Nagpur University professor Shoma Sen and activists Mahesh Raut and Rona Wilson for their alleged links with the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) and their roles in the ‘Elgaar Parishad’ and the Bhima-Koregaon clashes.
Two charge sheets have been filed against a total 23 accused in the case on a number of counts, including for alleged Maoist links, veering youths towards Maoism and attempting to destabilise the State. The first charge sheet, a 5,160 page indictment, was filed in November 2018 and the second in February last.