Bijay Kumar Minj, New Delhi
Updated: October 08, 2021 10:07 AM GMT
Rights activists and supporters of late Jesuit priest Father Stan Swamy demand justice for him at a national vigil in New Delhi on Nov. 26. (Photo: Bijay Kumar Minj/UCA News)
The opposition from Hindu nationalists’ organizations has compelled a Jesuit-run institution in the southern Indian state of Karnataka to postpone the naming of a park inside its campus after late Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist Father Stan Swamy.
The 140-year-old St. Aloysius College in Mangaluru had decided to hold the naming ceremony on Oct. 7 but postponed it citing President Ramanath Kovind’s two-day official visit to the city.
Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), its youth wing Bajrang Dal and Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the students’ wing of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, had threatened to stage a protest if the college went ahead with the plan.
The park is located on the college’s Beeri campus on the outskirts of the coastal city but VHP said it would be an insult to name it after someone accused of terror activities.
Speaking to media persons, VHP’s state secretary Sharan Pumpwell said Father Swamy was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) under an anti-terror law and was facing serious charges for his alleged role in the Bhima Koregaon case.
“It is unfair to oppose the naming of the park in the name of Father Stan and to brand him as a Maoist because it is not yet proven in court,” Father Denzil Fernandes, director of the Jesuit-run Indian Social Institute in New Delhi, told UCA News.
... people across the globe believe that Father Stan, who worked tirelessly for the tribal people, is innocent and became a victim of injustice
He said the Bhima Koregaon case is still pending in court and unless guilt is proved nobody can be called an anti-national.
“Not only the people of this country but even people across the globe believe that Father Stan, who worked tirelessly for the tribal people, is innocent and became a victim of injustice,” Father Fernandes said.
VHP had warned that the Jesuit institution would be responsible if any untoward incident took place. “We conveyed our opposition to the college management and also informed the local administration,” Pumpwell said.
The Hindu nationalists’ organizations suggested that instead of Father Swamy, the college could name the park after former federal ministers Oscar Fernandes or George Fernandes for their contributions to India.
The NIA arrested Father Swamy in October 2020, along with 16 other rights activists, academics and lawyers, for allegedly fomenting trouble at Bhima Koregaon in 2018 and conspiring with outlawed Maoist rebels to topple the federal government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Father Swamy, who was suffering from Parkinson’s disease and several other age-related ailments, spent almost eight months in jail after being denied bail on health grounds until his condition worsened. He died on July 5 while undergoing treatment in Mumbai.
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