Indian Jesuit priest Stanislaus Lourduswamy, known as Stan Swamy, died on Monday, July 5, in a hospital in India. He was 84.
Media reports said the priest died at 1:24 in the afternoon of Monday, local time.
Dr. Ian D’souza, medical director of the Holy Family Hospital where Father Swamy was admitted, said the priest has pulmonary infection, post COVID-19 complications in the lungs, and pneumonia.
Father Swamy suffered from cardiac arrest on July 4 at 4:30 a.m. and was put on a ventilator but he never regained consciousness, said Dr. D’souza.
“With all humility at our command, this is a shocking news,” the Bombay High Court said in a statement.
“We have no words to express our condolences. But since the doctor informed us here, so remaining matter on any other date we will hear,” it added.
Father Swamy has been in detention since last year after he was arrested for terror-related offenses under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Indian authorities alleged that the priest supported the cause of banned communist groups through his civil rights organizations.
Authorities tagged the priest’s Persecuted Political Prisoners Solidarity Committee, a human rights organization, as a front organization of Maoist and extremist groups.
The Bagaicha, an organization established by Father Swamy to empower the tribal group Adivbasis, was also tagged as a communist front.
Father Swamy is the oldest person in India to face terror-related charges and he has joined 15 others including human rights activists, journalists and scholars arrested in connection to a 2018 incident of caste-based violence known locally as the Bhima Koregaon case.
The priest’s supporters said he is being branded as an anti-nationalist and was jailed because he was fighting for the implementation of laws passed by the parliament for tribal people and their constitutional rights.
On Oct. 26 last year, the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences called for his immediate release; following a similar statement issued by Indian bishops.
India’s National Crime Records Bureau showed that as many as 5,922 people were held under the country’s Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act between 2016-2019, with only 132 convictions.
The draconian law has come under severe criticism from international observers in recent years, as has India’s human rights record since the Bharatiya Janata Party came into power.
In a recent “Freedom in the World Report 2021” by Freedom House, the country was downgraded from “free” to “partly free” for the first time.