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Incriminating evidence planted in computers: The Trojan solved the Bhima Koregaon case!

Incriminating evidence planted in computers: The Trojan solved the Bhima Koregaon case!

Poster by #bakeryprasad

Anchored Narratives / by RJM

How proper file, malware, and memory forensics techniques were able to catch the ModifiedElephant threat actor planting incriminating evidence on defendants’ computers in India.
I agreed in late 2022 to independently review a new digital forensics report from Arsenal Consulting (hereafter: Arsenal), which was still under embargo. Niha Masih, an award-winning reporter with The Washington Post, reached out to me in early December and explained that she had written a series of articles (based on Arsenal reports) about Indian activists in the “Bhima Koregaon” case who were hacked and had evidence planted on their devices before their arrests. Niha asked if I would be able to validate Arsenal’s work.
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Also read:
Hackers Planted Files to Frame an Indian Priest Who Died in Custody (Wired / Dec 13, 2022)
Police Linked to Hacking Campaign to Frame Indian Activists (Wired.com / June 2022)
They were Accused of plotting to overthrow the Modi government – The evidence was planted, a new report says (Washington Post / Feb 2021)

Killing Father Stan with lies

Killing Father Stan with lies

Poster by #bakeryprasad

Midday.com / by Ajaz Ashraf

Stan had, during interrogation, claimed that the evidence against him was ‘interpolated’, as he wrote in his book I Am Not A Silent Spectator; but NIA did not believe him. Now a forensic firm has confirmed it.
Late Jesuit priest Father Stan Swamy wrote a slim book, I Am Not A Silent Spectator, before he was arrested on October 8, 2020. In the book, Stan details the questions sleuths from the National Investigation Agency asked him over 15 hours of interrogation spread over five days—and the answers he gave. He scoffed at the documents they said had been extracted from his computer, insisting these were “interpolations”.
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Also read:
Hackers Planted Files to Frame an Indian Priest Who Died in Custody (Wired / Dec 13, 2022)
And the future of Stan Swamy (Midday.com / Oct 2022)


I am not a silent spectator

An autobiographical fragment, memory and reflection

Indian Social Institute / By Stan Swamy


Publisher: Indian Social Institute
First published in 2021
140 pages
Download pdf

Fight to clear Fr Stan Swamy’s name ‘will continue’ / Activists Call for Release of Accused

Fight to clear Fr Stan Swamy’s name ‘will continue’ / Activists Call for Release of Accused

Dec 22, 2022, Pic by MRSD

The death of Fr. Stan Swamy was finalised the day he was arrested: Senior Advocate Mihir Desai

26/12/2022

Sabrang / by Sabrangindia

A Press Conference discussing the recent Arsenal report, and the tampering of evidence in Late Fr. Stan Swamy’s Case
A press conference was organised by the Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh in Mumbai on December 22, 2022. The aim of this press conference was to discuss the issue of reports recently released suggesting fabrication of evidence on the computer of Father Stan Swamy. The speakers at this conference were Fr. Joe Xavier, Fr. Frazer Mascarenhas, Senior Advocate Mihir Desai and Former Professor Nagarjuna G. There were almost 30-40 journalists present in the audience.
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‘Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy’

23/12/2022

Rediff.com / by Neeta Kolhatkar

The State has played with their lives.’
‘Arsenal proved the machines were hacked and false evidence implanted with false files and letters.’

An independent organisation, ‘Mumbai Rises To Save Democracy’, called upon the public and media to raise their voices against the authoritarian State.
This call comes after the United States-based digital forensics firm Arsenal Consulting revealed that several incriminating documents were planted on the computers of the late Father Stan Swamy, Rona Wilson and Surendra Gadling, accused in the Bhima Koregaon case.
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‘Fr Stan Swamy did not even access plants on his computer’

23/12/2022

Hindustan Times / by Gautam S Mengle

Mihir Desai, Senior Advocate at High Court of Bombay, Fr. Joe Xavier, Convenor of Fr. Stan Swamy Legacy Committee of the Jesuits, Fr. Frazer Mascarenhas, Former Principal of St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai along with Nagarjuna G., Former Professor of Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, TIFR, during the press conference on “Fabricating Evidence Against Life & Liberty: Tampering with Fr. Stan Swamy’s computer and its implications for Bhima Koregaon case, at Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh (MMPS), near Azad Maidan, in Mumbai, India, on Thursday, December 22, 2022.
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Stan Swamy didn’t access files used against him, evidence fabricated: US-based forensics firm

22/12/2022

India Today / by Mustafa Shaikh

Evidence against Late Father Stan Swamy in the Bhima Koregaon case was planted and fabricated, US-based digital forensics firm, Arsenal Consulting, stated in a report.
Evidence against Late Father Stan Swamy in the Bhima Koregaon case was planted and fabricated. His computer was compromised by the same attacker who hacked the computers of co-accused Rona Wilson and Surendra Gadling, US-based digital forensics firm, Arsenal Consulting, stated in a report.
Swamy’s lawyer and friends revealed details of the report and their further course of action on Thursday.
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‘Stan Swamy was jailed as he used law to help adivasis’

22/12/2022

Times of India / by TNN

Why did Fr Stan Swamy, an 80-year-old Jesuit and tribal rights activist, find himself in the crosshairs of the investigating agencies? At a news meet on Thursday, a panel comprising close associates claimed it was because Swamy had used the legal system to help tribals, whose lands were illegally grabbed. “Stan worked for justice and paid the price for it,” said Fr. Joe Xavier, ex-executive director of Indian Social Institute.
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Poster by #bakeryprasad

Activists Call for Release of Accused in Elgar Parishad Case, Probe into ‘Fabrication’ of Evidence

22/12/2022

The Wire / by The Wire Staff

There is a fresh demand for an impartial probe from activists in the wake of a recent report by a US-based digital forensics firm stating that ‘incriminating evidence’ was ‘planted’ on the laptop of activist Stan Swamy, an accused in the case. 
Human rights activists, lawyers and academicians on Thursday, December 22, called for the release of the accused persons in the Elgar Parishad case and an impartial probe into the allegations of tampering of electronic devices and fabrication of evidence of all those accused in the case.
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Fight to clear Fr Stan Swamy’s name ‘will continue’

23/12/2022

UCA News / by UCA News reporter

A recent report by US digital forensics firm reveals how the late Jesuit priest was implicated by planted false evidence
Friends and colleagues of a dead Jesuit Indian priest have pledged to continue the fight “to clear his name from the false cases” that led to his arrest, imprisonment and death in custody.
Father Stan Swamy, the 84-year-old priest and indigenous rights activist died on July 5, 2021, after being denied timely medical treatment for Parkinson’s disease and other age-related ailments.
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NIA may be suppressing probe findings: Stan Swamy’s lawyer Mihir Desai

23/12/2022

Midday.com / by Nascimento Pinto

The participants called for the release of the remaining co-accused in the Bhima Koregaon conspiracy case, along with an independent impartial investigation into the tampering of electronic devices and fabrication of evidence of all those accused in the case.
Almost a week after American digital forensics firm ‘Arsenal Consulting’ revealed in a detailed report that tribal rights activist Father Stanislaus Lourdes Swamy’s computer was tampered with and ‘evidence’ was planted on it, human rights activists, lawyers and academicians vowed to secure justice for the late Ranchi-based priest and those accused of terror links in Bhima-Koregaon case.
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Video: Press Conference by Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy (MRSD)

22/12/2022

In wake of the recent Arsenal report which exposes the malicious tampering with Fr. Stan Swamy’s computer, MRSD* organized a press conference on “Fabricating Evidence Against Life and Liberty: Tampering with Fr. Stan Swamy’s computer and its implications for Bhima Koregaon case”


en | 1:31 | 2022
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Press Conference / Statement by MRSD: Fabricating Evidence – Tampering with Fr. Stan Swamy’s computer

Press Conference / Statement by MRSD: Fabricating Evidence – Tampering with Fr. Stan Swamy’s computer

By Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy (MRSD)

In wake of the recent Arsenal report which exposes the malicious tampering with Fr. Stan Swamy’s computer, MRSD* organized a press conference on “Fabricating Evidence Against Life and Liberty: Tampering with Fr. Stan Swamy’s computer and its implications for Bhima Koregaon case” on December 22, 2022.
Speakers:
Fr. Joe Xavier, Convenor of Fr. Stan Swamy Legacy Committee of the Jesuits and Former Executive Director of the Indian Social Institute.
Fr. Frazer Mascarenhas, Former principal of St Xavier’s College in Mumbai and the Parish Priest of St Peter’s Church.
Mihir Desai, Senior Advocate at High Court of Bombay.
Nagarjuna G., Former Professor, Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.

*MRSD is a forum constituted by several democratic rights, civil society and people’s organisations to campaign for the release of human rights defenders falsely charged and imprisoned in the Bhima Koregaon conspiracy case, the repeal of UAPA and for upholding the citizens’ right to dissent.


en | 1:31 | 2022
Watch video


Press Statement

22/12/2022

By Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy*

Fabricating Evidence Against Life and Liberty: Tampering with Fr. Stan Swamy’s computer and its implications for Bhima Koregaon case

The latest report released by Arsenal Consulting, a Massachusetts-based digital forensics firm- proves that Father Stan’s computer was infiltrated by hackers since October 19th 2014, and more than 40 documents were planted in it. In his last video statement before his arrest, Stan had asserted that documents shown to him by the NIA were fabricated. Inspite of the same he was arrested on 8th October 2020 and subsequently died on 5th July 2021 in custody. Stan’s case represents not just grave injustice to the 84-year-old, but also the deep denigration of basic humanity by the system.
Fr. Stan was incarcerated in the Bhima Koregaon (BK) conspiracy case which has come to represent a major conspiracy against human rights defenders in India. Including Stan, 16 activists, lawyers, academicians have been arrested since 2018 in the case filed by the Pune police (later on transferred to NIA) following caste violence that broke out against Dalit visitors on January 1, 2018, in Bhima Koregaon village near Pune. Ironically, the police invoked UAPA, a law that Stan vehemently resisted, to arrest the BK-16 activists, and brand them as anti-nationals, urban naxals and members of a banned political party and even alleged involvement in a purported assassination plan on the Prime minister. The long list of allegations in the case is meant to arouse the deepest suspicion against these 16 accused, and against their work of defending democracy and people’s struggles.
Fr. Stan worked tirelessly especially for Adivasis in Jharkhand, their rights to land, forest, and against their false incarceration. Apart from being an activist, he also documented many instances of injustices in an impeccable manner. He also raised objections to instances of illegal mining and other supposed development projects which had the impact of displacing people from their home and hearths.
Fr. Stan’s arrest in the middle of COVID-19 pandemic, despite his ill-health and age, is a proof of the system’s apathy to human rights defenders. During his last months in prison, he repeatedly requested to be shifted to his residence in Ranchi. A patient of the Parkinson’s disease, Stan faced multiple challenges during his incarceration. Inspite of having contracted Covid and taking seriously ill, he was denied timely medical treatment and care in prison. However, no cognizance of this was taken, and the situation deteriorated resulting in the death of Fr. Stan, even while his application for bail was pending. His untimely and tragic death is a result of the sheer negligence of the jail authorities, NIA and failure of the entire criminal justice system to protect a defender of justice. Such denial of rights becomes even more stark with emerging documentary proof that the evidence presented in the case were fabricated. It must be noted that in April 2021, Arsenal consulting had already released a report proving the malicious hacking and planting of documents in computers of co-accused, Rona Wilson and Surendra Gadling.
The fact that Fr. Stan died before he could get a chance to prove his innocence is jarring. This case shows the extent to which illegal cyber-attacks are being used in Digital India to build false criminal cases against innocent citizens who can then be jailed indefinitely under the UAPA law. Such is the desperation of the system to incarcerate human rights defenders and dehumanize the society at large. At the same time, the real instigators of violence at Bhima Koregaon, Milind Ekbote of Samastha Hindu Aghadi and Sambhaji Bhide of Shiv Chhatrapati Pratishan are not being prosecuted and are instead being shielded politically.

We call for:
1. Immediate release of all remaining co-accused in the Bhima Koregaon conspiracy case and quashing of the case against them on the basis of fabricated evidence.
2. Reparations and justice for the wrongful incarceration of Fr. Stan Swamy that resulted in his death.
3. Impartial and independent investigation into the tampering of electronic devices and fabrication of evidence against the BK-16 accused in the case.
4. Impartial and independent investigation into the role of Milind Ekbote, Sambhaji Bhide and other right-wing leaders and outfits for planning and inciting violence on Dalits in Bhima Koregaon and their prosecution in the FIRs filed against them.
5. Repeal of draconian UAPA law used as a tool to curb dissent and political opposition.

*Mumbai Rises to Save Democracy: MRSD is a forum constituted by more than 20 democratic rights, civil society and people’s organisations to campaign for the release of those arrested in the Bhima Koregaon conspiracy case, repeal of UAPA and for upholding the citizens’ right to dissent.

Also read:
Hackers Planted Files to Frame an Indian Priest Who Died in Custody (Wired / Dec 13, 2022)

Life and liberty in the Bhima Koregaon case / Report points to a conspiracy

Life and liberty in the Bhima Koregaon case / Report points to a conspiracy

Poster by #bakeryprasad

Life and liberty in the Bhima Koregaon case

17/12/2022

The New Indian Express / by Pratik Kanjilal

Father Stan Swamy’s computer was compromised from 2014, the longest period that an accused has been targeted in Arsenal’s experience, suggesting institutional hacking.
Once, twice, three times—twice too often to attribute to chance—a digital security consultancy has found that NetWire malware was used to drop incriminating files on the computers of detenus in the Bhima Koregaon case. It is obviously no case because hearings have not even begun, though the first suspects were arrested in June 2018 for a nebulous conspiracy to assassinate the prime minister, who had earlier expressed nebulous anxieties about his person.
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Stan Swamy: Report points to a conspiracy

16/12/2022

Stan Swamy and 15 others, including academics, lawyers, activists, and journalists, had been arrested in the Elgar Parishad case.
A fresh revelation that incriminating material was planted in the laptop of Stan Swamy, who was named an accused in the Elgar Parishad case and who passed away last year in prison in Mumbai, points to a conspiracy, which was planned and executed at high levels, to frame him in a false case.
Read more


Also read:
Hackers Planted Files to Frame an Indian Priest Who Died in Custody (Wired / Dec 13, 2022)

Indian government asked to apologize for framing Stan Swamy / Govt to ‘take full responsibility’

Indian government asked to apologize for framing Stan Swamy / Govt to ‘take full responsibility’

Stan Swamy. Poster by #bakeryprasad

by Mary Lawlor UN Special Rapporteur HRDs / @MaryLawlorhrds (Dec 15, 2022):
Extremely distressing new report by @ArsenalArmed which finds that fake evidence was planted on Stan Swamy’s computer. Stan’s detention & death are a stain on India’s human rights record. Charges against the other HRDs in Bhima Koregaon case must be dropped


Indian government asked to apologize for framing Stan Swamy

15/12/2022

Matters India / by Matters India Reporter

Catholic Church leaders have sought an “unconditional apology” from the Indian government for the custodial death of Father Stan Swamy after a US based digital forensic firm has found that the late Jesuit was falsely implicated in a sedition case.
“At least at this stage, the government and its probe agency should tender an unconditional apology to people for the unjust arrest, inhuman incarceration and custodial death of Father Swamy for no fault of his,” says Jesuit Father A Santhanam, convener of the National Lawyers Forum of Religious and Priests (NLFRP).
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Planting of evidence against Stan Swamy ‘blot on justice system’, say politicians, social bodies

14/12/2022

Scroll.in / by Scroll Staff

A news report claimed that a hacker planted evidence on a device owned by the tribal rights activist, who died in July last year.
Hours after a report claimed that a hacker planted evidence on a device owned by tribal rights activist Stan Swamy, several politicians, academics, activists and social organisations on Tuesday denounced the incident and described it as a “blot on the justice system”.
“Is this how a democratic country treats its own?” Congress leader Salman Anees Soz tweeted. “The courts must introspect. Is this the best they can do?
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Indian govt ‘must come clean on Fr Stan Swamy’s death’

14/12/2022

UCA News / by UCA News Reporter

Evidence ‘planted’ on the late Jesuit priest’s computer to ‘falsely’ implicate him in the Bhima-Koregaon case, US agency says.
Catholic activists and priests want the Indian government to “take full responsibility” for the custodial death of Jesuit Father Stan Swamy after latest findings by US-based digital forensic experts that false evidence was planted on the priest’s computer by hacking it.
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by CPI (M) @cpimspeak (Dec 14, 2022):
CPI(M) demands that all the Bhima Koregaon accused be immediately released from jail; NIA should not deny their bail applications and or discharge appeals; an expert, fair re-examination taking into account the forensic evidence available should be made in a timebound framework.

Click to enlarge

Also read:
Hackers Planted Files to Frame an Indian Priest Who Died in Custody (Wired / Dec 13, 2022)
Leaked Data Shows Surveillance Net in Elgar Parishad Case May Have Crossed a Line (The Wire / July 2021)

Incriminating document found in Stan Swamy’s computer ‘planted’; similar tampering found in other Bhima Koregaon accused

Incriminating document found in Stan Swamy’s computer ‘planted’; similar tampering found in other Bhima Koregaon accused

Poster by #bakeryprasad

Incriminating document found in Fr. Stan Swamy’s computer ‘planted’; similar tampering found in other Bhima Koregaon accused: Reports American forensic firm

14/12/2022

The Leaflet / by Gursimran Kaur Kakshi

Previously, similar evidence of planting have also been found by the same firm, Arsenal, in the computer of mobile devices of Rona Wilson and Surendra Gadling, two other accused in the Bhima Koregaon case.
ON December 11, Arsenal Consulting, a United States-based digital forensic analysis firm, revealed that tribal rights activist and one of the accused in the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case, the late Fr. Stan Swamy’s computer was compromised over the course of three distinct campaigns, beginning on October 19, 2014, and ending with the seizure of his computer by the Pune police department on June 12, 2019.
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Hackers planted evidence on computer of jailed Indian priest, report says

13/12/2022

The Washington Post / by Niha Masih

Father Stan Swamy died after spending more than eight months in jail on terrorism charges
For months, Father Stan Swamy, an 84-year-old Jesuit priest, claimed his innocence in courts and pleaded for medical care, but Indian authorities denied him bail. He died at a hospital in July 2021 after spending more than eight months in jail on terrorism charges.
Now, an examination of an electronic copy of his computer by Arsenal Consulting, a Massachusetts-based digital forensics firm, concludes that a hacker infiltrated his device and planted evidence, according to a new report by the company.
Read more


Hackers Planted Files to Frame an Indian Priest Who Died in Custody

13/12/2022

Wired / by Andy Greenberg

And new evidence suggests those hackers may have collaborated with the police who investigated him.
The case of the Bhima Koregaon 16, in which hackers planted fake evidence on the computers of two Indian human rights activists that led to their arrest along with more than a dozen colleagues, has already become notorious worldwide. Now the tragedy and injustice of that case is coming further into focus: A forensics firm has found signs that the same hackers also planted evidence on the hard drive of another high-profile defendant in the case who later died in jail—as well as fresh clues that the hackers who fabricated that evidence were collaborating with the Pune City Police investigating him.
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Evidence Planted On Activist Stan Swamy’s Laptop, Claims US Report

13/12/2022

NDTV / by Aruveetil Mariyam Alavi, Sreenivasan Jain

The report blasts a hole in the National Investigation Agency’s (NIA) charges against Stan Swamy.
A new report by an American forensic firm shows that multiple incriminating documents were planted in the computer of Father Stan Swamy, the 83-year-old activist-priest who was arrested for alleged terror links in 2020 and who died in custody a year later.
Read more


Also read:
Police Linked to Hacking Campaign to Frame Indian Activists (Wired.com / June 2022)

Bhima Koregaon Accused (BK16) | 1 Dead, 1 on House Arrest, 3 on Bail: What of the Rest?

Bhima Koregaon Accused (BK16) | 1 Dead, 1 on House Arrest, 3 on Bail: What of the Rest?

poster by @/bakeryprasad

The Quint / by Rohini Roy

The remaining 11 continue to languish in jail — Who are they and what is the status of the case against them?
Anti-caste writer Anand Teltumbde, who walked out of jail on Saturday, 26 November, after he was granted bail on merits in connection with the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case said:
“I am definitely happy. It has been 30 months that I have been in prison. The sad part, however, is that we had to spend time in jail after being booked in a fake case.”
In the same case, two others, poet Varavara Rao and lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj – were granted bail earlier due to different reasons, while academic Gautam Navlakha was allowed house arrest on health grounds by a 19 November Supreme Court order.
Read more


Also read:
As Bhima Koregaon case completes its fourth anniversary, State reprisal is writ large in its twists and turns (The Leaflet / June 2022)
Bhima Koregaon: Who’s who of those arrested and the developments in the case pertaining to each (The Leaflet / June 2022)

Securing the right to health of political prisoners

Securing the right to health of political prisoners

The Leaflet / by Rohin Bhatt

It is time that the right to health becomes a reality, in letter and spirit to every person, irrespective of their incarceration status. This will have to be done through a wide scale, public health campaign, and rapid recruitment of qualified doctors with training in evidence-based medicine that can provide adequate care to prisoners.
It has been good law in India since Bandhua Mukti Morcha versus Union of India (1983) that the right to health is a fundamental part of right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution…
However, what happens when you are a political prisoner in India? These rights are vitiated, and the process becomes the punishment.
Read more


Also read/watch:
Relatives of BK16 Flag Prison Authorities’ ‘Criminal Negligence’ and Deteriorating Health of Undertrials (Newsclick / Sep 2022)
Stop Denying Political Prisoners the Right to Healthcare in Jails (Peoples Union for Democratic Rights / Sep 2022)
Hunger Strike unto death against the harassment from Taloja Central Jail’s apathetic administration (By Sagar Gorkhe / May 20, 2022)

● Video: The Conditions of Prisoners in Indian Jails

By All India Lawyers’ Association for Justice – AILAJ / March 2022


en | 1:21:23 | 2022
The huge number of undertrials, the overcrowding, and the disproportional numbers of Dalit, Muslim and Adivasi prisoners are part of the prison problem in India.
We are joined by Adv. Sudha Bharadwaj for a discussion on the Conditions of Prisoners in Indian Jails.
Watch video

And the future of Stan Swamy

And the future of Stan Swamy

Midday / by Ajaz Ashraf

Stan had modelled himself on Jesus, becoming a dissident both inside and outside the established order. Like Jesus, he, too, was crucified—by the State. Now, every time an adivasi stands up for his rights, he is resurrected.
Joe, please come over to Ranchi,” Father Stan Swamy said to Father Joseph Xavier, director, Indian Social Institute, Bengaluru, over the telephone on September 30, 2020. Stan sensed the National Investigation Agency was planning to invoke against him the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and whisk him away to Mumbai, where the Bhima Koregaon case accused had been dumped into jail. He knew it would not matter to NIA sleuths that he was 83 years old, his body ravaged by Parkinson’s disease.
Read more


Also read:
Framed to die: The case of Stan Swamy (PUDR / Aug 2021) documents the manner in which Stan Swamy was framed, fettered, and finally forced towards a fatal illness under due process of law called Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

And a place Sudhir Dhawale calls home (Midday.com / Aug 2022)
And prayers to Lord for Arun Ferreira (Midday.com / Aug 2022)
And Vernon’s letters to his son (Midday.com / July 2022)
And comrades admire Jyoti Jagtap (Midday.com / July 2022)
And the letters of Rona Wilson (Midday.com / June 2022)
And Allah’s call to Hany Babu (Midday.com / June 2022)
And Ma can’t sing with Sagar (Midday.com / June 2022)
And he waits for Shoma Sen (Midday.com / May 2022)
And she waits for Gautam Navlakha (Midday.com / May 2022)