NEW DELHI — A Jesuit priest and activist with Parkinson’s disease, whose high-profile arrest was seen as an example of the broad scope of the Indian government’s unpopular antiterrorism law, died on Monday still in custody at a hospital in Mumbai, his lawyer said.
The Rev. Stan Swamy — at 84 the oldest person to be accused of terrorism in India — was arrested last October under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, which critics say is meant to stifle dissent. His detention incited widespread accusations of government cruelty.
Rights activists and other critics say the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi has used the act and the coronavirus pandemic as a pretext to round up government critics and silence activists who are protesting what they see as the government’s iron-fisted and anti-minority policies.
A number of academics, writers and poets are being held under antiterrorism laws that have been used to criminalize everything from leading rallies to posting political messages on social media.