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Massive Ranchi rally demands release of Stan Swamy

Opposition parties, civil society groups condemn NIA arrest of 83-year-old activist

All major non-BJP political parties and social activists on Saturday took to the streets in Ranchi, demanding the immediate release of Stan Swamy, the 83-year-old tribal rights activist, who was arrested last week by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with Bhima Koregaon case.

The march titled ‘Nyay March’ started from the Zilla School and culminated with a dharna in front of the Raj Bhawan.

Also read: ‘Stan Swamy’s arrest a violation of human rights’, say civil rights activists

“Mr. Swamy has been working for tribal rights for years now. His credential as an activist has never been in question. It is illegal to lodge him in jail for a crime which he has not committed,” said Prafulla Linda, Adivasi Adhikar Manch, a CPI (M)-affiliated organisation.

Mr. Swamy’s arrest was a part of the central government’s strategy to intensify loot of Jharkhand’s natural resources, alleged Sanjay Pandey, the district secretary of the Congress.

Also read: Stan Swamy arrest: Jesuit fathers hold silent protest

Activist Dayamani Barla said, “Father Stan Swamy had been fighting for protection of water, forest and land. Following his footsteps, hundreds of grassroot level workers and activists have been doing the same work in villages. Activists of different people’s movements are standing solidly behind Mr. Swamy.”

Political parties including the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, CPI and CPI (ML) and organisations such as Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, Jan Mukti Sangharsh Vahini, Manaveey Ekta, National Domestic Workers Movement, Right to Food Campaign, Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan, and Singhbhum Adivasi Samaj, Sajha Kadam participated in the protest rally.

Also read: Bhima Koregaon case | NIA files charge sheet against Stan Swamy, Anand Teltumbde, Gautam Navlakha and five others

Demanding repeal of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Congress leader Prahakar Tirkey said the draconian law was being misused to suppress political opponents while NIA had become a tool in hands of central government.

Mahua Manjhi of JMM condemned the arrest of Mr. Swamy, saying the NIA could have asked few questions related to case at his residence and there was no need to put him behind bars.

Through a memorandum addressed to Governor Draupadi Murmu, they demanded immediate release of Mr. Swamy and all political prisoners, closure of Bhima-Koregaon case withdrawal of false cases related to Delhi riot cases and repeal sections 124A (sedition) and 499 (criminal defamation) of the Indian Penal Code, Unlawful Activities (Preventions) Act (UAPA) and National Security Act (NSA).

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