Father Stan Swamy: A Soft-Spoken Man With a Fire Within

Swamy dedicated his life to Adivasi rights. And that’s what made him so ‘dangerous’ in the eyes of the state.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
∼ 2 Timothy 4:7

I write this seething with rage. Livid about the injustice, the cruelty, the sheer inhumanity of the senseless death of a simple, committed  human being who gave his life for the people he loved and worked for all his life. I’m ashamed of my country being turned into a Banana Republic, slowly but surely.

Father Stan Swamy fought the good fight till his very last breath. He died on Monday, July 5, 2021, after several months in prison. His lifelong battle for the poor and dispossessed was not in vain, although seeking power or glory was the antithesis of everything he stood for. Ironically, this simple, quiet intellectual’s death made it to the headlines of almost every major newspaper in the country. He would have hated being in the limelight. He lived for the Adivasis of Jharkhand, never for himself.

For people in this country who care about the fate of the poorest, about human rights or even about justice in its most basic form, something died inside us. Beginning with the criminal incarceration and inhumane treatment of an 84-year-old man, and ending with the death of this utterly decent, unusually good man. “A rare gift from God,” as someone aptly described him. I’m not prone to superlatives. But this was truly a very good man.

For my husband Stan, its even more deeply personal. Father Stan, his namesake, invited him to Jharkhand in 1974 when he was a mere 21 year old. Father Stan introduced him to the Ho tribals near Chaibasa and offered him food, shelter and a space to work. He was a teacher and mentor to my husband. So the loss goes deep. But the lessons lasted a lifetime, inspiring my husband to continue working with Adivasis even after he left Jharkhand.