It’s a weekend and you’re wondering how you should spend your time. Maybe go out with friends , or maybe just stay in and read something, or maybe just be locked up in a prison cell. What’s wrong? The last one sounds odd ? Is it not how many people are spending their weekends or maybe everyday of their lives ?

Stan Swamy , 84 year old Jesuit priest, Tribal rights activist based in Jharkhand ,suffering from Parkinson’s disease , died a few days back after being on ventilator for 2 days. He had been lodged in Tihar jail since a year under the stringent charges of UAPA [ Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act ]. Since he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease , it became difficult for him to carry on his normal day to day activities. It took NIA 50 days to render his request for a sipper and a straw. Yes 50 days. For a straw and a sipper.

Stan Swamy , had worked for Adivasi community and their land and labour rights for decades. He had also questioned the non implementation of 5th schedule of constitution which had led to setting up of Tribes Advisory Coucil with members solely of adivasi communities. He had also raised his voice against indiscriminate arrests of thousands of young adivasis and labelling them as “Naxals”.

Stan Swamy was arrested last year in relation to the Bhima Koregaon case along with many other activists.A brief context to the case – on January 1, 2018 , thousands of Dalits had gathered in Pune to commemorate 200 years of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon — which was won by the British Army (comprising many Dalit soldiers) against Peshwas in 1818.The quiet gathering soon turned violent with many activists being blamed for having instigated and having Maoist links with CPI( M ).

Cartoon 173: Hunger Strike in Iran – Center for Human Rights in Iran

After contracting the corona virus, which further added to his derailing health , he was admitted in the hospital but lost the battle of life before even trying to win the battle of justice.

Human Rights lately sound like a hoax. Despite the fact , that India has Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act ,2016 which protects disabled convicts of torture and discriminatory behaviour in prisons , Stan Swamy was not provided the very basic facilities . India is also signatory to UNCRPD – UN Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which imposes positive obligation on authorities,including prison staff to ensure that the disabled prisoners are treated equally.

Sudha Bhardwaj, prominent activist , lawyer from Chhattisgarh , also is logded in jail since 2018 in relation to the Bhima Koregaon case and has been refused bail multiple times.

Umar Khalid , activist and former JNU student is also locked up in jail in relation with Delhi riots case under stringent UAPA .

Recently , Pinjra Tod activists, Natasha Narawal and Devangana Kalita were finally released on bail after spending a year in jail. What is most worrisome regarding these cases and many others , is that people have been deprived of their basic fundamental rights. Supreme Court in many of its past judgments has reiterated the right of the accuse of BEING HEARD. Every accused in considered innocent unless proven guilty. And for that purpose BAIL is a very integral part of the process. Bail is the norm , Jail is exception.

How beautiful the sky is , how melodious is the chirping of the birds, how fun it is to catch up with friends at that chai ki dukaan , and how peaceful freedom is. Sadly for some, it’s just a dream.