Jailed Indian Jesuit Fr Stan Swamy test positive for Covid-19

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jailed Indian Jesuit Father Stan Swamy. File photo.

The jailed Indian Jesuit, Father Stan Swamy, 84, arrested for his alleged involvement in the Elgaar Parishad case, has tested positive for Covid-19.

On Friday the Bombay High Court had directed the state prison authorities to shift Father Swamy from Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai to the private Holy Family Hospital in Bandra for 15 days.

According to the court directives Father Swamy was shifted to Holy Family Hospital late on Friday itself. He was put in the ICU and was on oxygen support and tested for Covid-19.

After learning of Swamy’s test results, jail officials got two inmates, including co-accused Arun Ferreira, who were Swamy’s attendants in prison, tested. Their antigen test results were negative for Covid.

However, the jail official said that Father Swamy was given Covid-19 vaccination at an in-house prison vaccination camp on May 18.

The jailed Indian Jesuit priest, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease and other age-related illnesses, has been detained in a prison in Mumbai since October 9.

Swamy’s health deteriorates

Father Swamy’s counsel had told the court that the priest’s health had deteriorated further and he needed special treatment outside the jail’s hospital. Lawyer Mihir Desai had filed a special plea citing his health condition on May 27 before the bench.

The court also directed the Catholic church-run hospital in Mumbai to assign an assistant to take care of the priest.

“We are glad that the court has ordered Father Swamy to be moved to the hospital,” Father A. Santhanam, a Jesuit lawyer who is monitoring Samy’s case said.

Last week Father Swamy told the court through an online platform that his health had worsened since he was jailed. The court was hearing his bail plea filed on health grounds but it postponed the hearing to June.

The priest was arrested from his home in Ranchi, capital of eastern India’s Jharkhand state, on charges of conspiring with outlawed Maoist rebels to overthrow the federal government in New Delhi.

Swamy wants to go back to his residence

However, the court had given him an option to go for treatment in a government hospital, which he rejected. He said his only prayer was for interim bail and he preferred to stay in jail until it was granted.

Father Swamy wanted to go back to his residence in Ranchi but the court did not permit it and instead agreed to send him for treatment at a private hospital. He turned down that offer too.

Earlier the priest had approached the high court on April 26 seeking bail after the National Investigation Agency (NIA) turned down his bail applications twice. The jailed Indian Jesuit priest is among the 16 people charged under India’s stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, a controversial law that rights activists and others want to be scrapped.

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