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‘Lathi-charged While Protesting Stan Swamy’s Death’, Say Delhi SFI Activists; Notice Served to Four

The SFI activists had gathered to protest at Jantar Mantar following the death of Father Stan Swamy, the eldest of the accused in the Bhima Koregaon-Maoist link case.

Members of the Students' Federation of India (SFI) on Tuesday staged a protest at Jantar Mantar in Delhi against the “state-sponsored murder” of tribal rights activist Father Stan Swamy in custody. The scene soon turned violent as the protesting students were lathi-charged by the police and more than 20 SFI activists were detained, the students’ body said.

The Left-affiliated SFI in a statement alleged that its members were “attacked by Delhi Police without any provocation” and several of them including women were injured in the lathi-charge. “Activists faced brutal lathi charge at Jantar Mantar and were dragged into bus,” the students’ federation said.

More than 20 SFI Activists were also detained from Jantar Mantar including SFI Delhi State President Sumit Kataria, Secretary Pritish Menon, All India Joint Secretary Dipsita Dhar, and  SFI Delhi State Committee member Aishe Ghosh, who is also the President of Jawaharlal Nehru University Students Union in Delhi. While everyone was released from detention by 7:15 pm on Tuesday, the four activists -- Kataria, Menon, Dhar and Ghosh -- had a notice was served to them under Section 41A of the CrPC. The notice has asked them to appear before the police and an FIR may be filed against them, the statement said.

“We are witnessing brutal state repression and arrest of activists under false charges. BJP government is using UAPA as a tool to curb the voices of dissent and putting activists, academicians and lawyers behind the bars. We demand for the release of all political prisoners including Bhima Koregaon Arrestees,” the SFI said in its statement.

The SFI activists had gathered at Jantar Mantar following the death of Father Stan Swamy, the eldest of the accused in the Bhima Koregaon-Maoist link case. Stan Swamy, a Jesuit priest from Jharkhand, was a lifelong defender of tribal rights and led several movements. The octagenarian activist was admitted to a private hospital in Mumbai from the Taloja prison on May 29 following high court orders on a petition filed by him, seeking medical attention as he was suffering from COVID-19 and Parkinson's disease. He passed away at the hospital on July 5.

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