Columnist: Father Swamy: Indian Jesuit Priest-Activist in India’s Gulag —

Columnist: Father Swamy: Indian Jesuit Priest-Activist in India’s Gulag


By Tony Afejuku

India is an interesting country, a very interesting country. Ever before I physically visited this country of mysteries, I had known and visited it in my imagination rightly in my childhood and boyhood years.

I first knew and visited this wonderful country of wonders through its actors and songs and dances in our cinema houses in the good and holy city of Sapele, Papa’s land, dear, dear Safa that never dies.

Premier Cinema, Olympia Cinema and Luzo Cinema – I hope I am getting the name of the last mentioned one right as memory is now failing me – were cinema houses that screened live to us Indian films in which we always saw Shankar as the prime character or protagonist.

I remember vividly that a boyhood playmate bore zealously “Omo Shankar” as his assumed name, his moniker, what in the gone years we called “guy name.”

Oh! “Omo Shankar” has since passed on. Oh! Oh! Oh! Now let me put at bay the flood of memories rushing, cascading from years of ancient times of joyful joys.

Recently, very recently, I received the sad news of what is happening to a wonderful Jesuit priest who to boot is an activist, a solid defender of human rights in India that has since ceased to be the incredibly incredible India of my then years.

Its politicians especially of now have turned or better stated, are turning that mysteriously ancient country of civilizations into a Soviet/Russian Gulag where agents of the state carry out acts of terror against dissenters who they accuse of terrorism and its negative wonders of blemish.

Such is the case of the Catholic Priest Reverend Father Stan Swamy, S J – meaning a member of the Society of Jesus, in other words a Jesuit Priest. Father Swamy’s actual name is Father Stanislaus Lourdusamy who is locally, nationally and internationally well-known as Father Stan Swamy – as already indicated.

He is an ailing 83 years old man universally known today as the oldest man in India (and perhaps in the world as well) to be accused of terrorism – and who has a ten-thousand-page charge filed against him.

Fellow compatriots, my fellow Nigerians must know that this physically ailing priest has the mind and heart of steel which the Indian agents of state who are rabid security agents in the employment and service of the Indian National Investigation Agency (NIA) want to break and terminate in a cruelly indecorous manner. What is the NIA’s case against Father Stan Swamy?

The NIA’s agents have tagged him with the label of a Maoist, a euphemism for a die-hard neversay-die terrorist. But is this true?

Certainly not! Father Stan Swamy who has been living in Jharkhand, a state in northeastern India of flourishing but oppressed minorities, has made his deserved name as a fighter for and defender of the oppressed.

He fights for the poor and enslaved of India. The Dalits in India who are essentially worse than the scums, scruffs and dregs in any society are the Indian Untouchables in that unbelievably caste system plagued country.

The Dalits live in nature-blessed lands but are worse than the erstwhile Osus of Igbo land of Nigeria, our beautiful country.

Father Stan Swamy is an Indian one-army against man’s inhumanity to man in a country that prides itself as the biggest and greatest democracy in the world!

How wrong can Prime Minister Naranda Modi be! How wrong can this leading representative of the upper caste rulers be!

How indecorously wrong can Naranda be! The Jesuit priest-activist is clearly on solid grounds in his principled stance against the discrimination and oppression of India’s discomfited tribal people and rural poor. Incidentally, what Father Stan Swamy finds concerning in relation to the injustice against the Dalit and other severely low-caste community is what the Maoist rebels are also fighting against.

Similarity of stance and intent between Father Swamy and the Maoists is the crime of the Jesuit priest-activist.

For this he must rot in the name of vendetta rather than that of justice in the Indian Gulag where detainees and prisoners experience tough conditions tougher than those experienced in Nigeria’s most maximum of prisons now called correctional centres that are yet to prove their new name(s).

A report in my information-bag concerning Father Swamy’s arrest goes thus: “The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which deals with anti-terror crimes arrested him in connection over a 2018 incident of caste-based violence and alleged links with Maoists.

The rebels, who are active in several eastern and central states, claim that they are fighting for communist rule and greater rights for tribal people and the rural poor.”

This report reveals the splendid connection between Father Swamy’s sincere priestly feeling for the flotsam and jetsam of the Indian caste system democracy and the Maoist terrorists’ audacious ventures on behalf of the oppressed against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of Prime Minister Narenda Modi who has jailed sixteen people in “connection with the 2018 violence in Bhima Koregoon village in Maharashtra State.”

Some of the persons jailed so far include “some of India’s most respected scholars, lawyers, academicians, cultural activists and an ageing radical poet, who then contracted Covid-19 in prison.”

The implication of this is that Father Swamy is already cashiered in Modi’s government’s eyes, heart and mind.

The Jesuit priest will never get justice in the Prime Minister’s court of misplaced vendetta. Of course, the Jesuit priest of the feeling heart of gold has strongly denied all the fabrications and stealthy plots against him and his computer.

But what does the denial mean to the ridiculously cruel ‘democrat’ of deadly political power devoid of even an ounce of political moralogy?

As I am writing this, there are on-going protests in Mumbai (Bombay) and other places in India.

The protesters against Father Swamy’s very rough, tortuous and unjust detention running to more than two years now are gaining grounds.

They know about our End SARS protesters here, and Indian youths who consider the Jesuit priest a staunch moralogist are standing by him to the very end and until justice is delivered to him – even though many of them are nonCatholics and non-Christians.

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They are borrowing more than a leaf from Nigeria. They won’t be cowed; they know what to strike and how at the appointed time without engaging in acts of reckless and indecorous lootocracy.

Nigerian human rights defenders must add their international voices to the clamour for Father Stan Swamy’s unconditional release from India’s Gulag – now in the names of democratic morality, democratic justice and democratic compassion.

They must let out their voices vociferously as Indian human rights champions are already doing in support of our End SARS heroes and heroines as per the last gist that greeted me from Gandi’s land, which I shall revisit after the confirmed disgrace and funeral of Covid-19. As always, the rest is silence Incredible India!!!

The rest is silence.

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