Ranchi (Agenzia Fides) - 83-year-old Jesuit Father Stanislaus Lourduswamy, who is committed to the promotion of human rights and human development, was arrested for allegedly having relationships with Maoist rebel groups and illegal organizations. The arrest was ordered by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), an Agency that deals with the fight against terrorism, which took into custody the Jesuit social activist from his home in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand State in eastern India, on October 8th.
Father Stanislaus Lourduswamy, who denies any wrongdoing and declares himself completely innocent, has been working on a pastoral and social level for over 50 years to protect the dignity and development of tribal and other vulnerable communities in eastern India. His arrest has led to an open protest movement by the local church and various NGOs who know and appreciate the commitment and dedication of the religious.
"As members of the 'Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace', we strongly and unequivocally condemn the arrest of Fr. Stanislaus, said Jesuit Father Cedric Prakash, a confrere who is also committed to the protection of human rights in India, to Fides. The Forum condemns "the inhuman treatment by officials against Father Stanislaus, an elderly and frail person, a peace-loving Indian citizen who gave his life at the service of the tribals and the marginalized. This speaks volumes about the deteriorating democratic ethos in the country".
"We call on the Indian government to release Father Stan unconditionally and immediately", said the Forum's statement, which also called for "the release of all human rights defenders and other political prisoners who have been illegally arrested and detained in recent months".
"We hope that all citizens of India, who stand up for the rights and freedoms enshrined in our constitution, will join us in condemning Father Stan's illegal detention", the statement said. As a sign of protest, the members of the Forum, scattered all over the Indian territory, will celebrate tomorrow October 10th a special day of prayer and fasting and, where possible, organize peaceful public demonstrations and citizens of all religions and cultures and social belonging, to stand up for the protection of the inalienable rights of every Indian citizen, according to the Constitutional Charter. (SD-PA) (Agenzia Fides, 9/10/2020)