HR groups, activists, scholars seek action against Hindutva groups for issuing threats to Mangalore college

File picture of Father Stan Swamy

Scores of human rights organizations, activists and scholars have written an open letter to Mangalore district administration in Karnataka seeking action against Hindutva groups for issuing threats to St. Aloysius College following the college’s attempt to rename one of its parks after late tribal rights activist Father Stan Swamy.

Shalini S | 

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MANGALORE – After a college in Mangalore, Karnataka shelved its plan to rename one of its parks after deceased tribal rights activist Father Stan Swamy, following opposition by rightwing Hindutva groups, scores of human rights organizations, and activists have written an open letter to Mangalore district administration to take action against “several Hindutva outfits.”

On October 8, scores of organizations including Campaign to Defend Democracy, All India People’s Forum (AIPF), People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), and human rights activists and scholars, including Amar Jesani, P. Sainath, Anil Sadagopal, Dunu Roy, Harsh Mander, Kavita Srivatsava, Meera Sanghamitra, Nandini Sundar, Pieter Friedrich, Ram Puniyani among others wrote an open letter demanding the Mangalore district administration to take action against the Hindutva outfits Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) and Bajrang Dal.

The management of St. Aloysius College in Mangalore had earlier decided to name one of its parks in Beeri Campus after Father Stan Swamy. The decision was shelved after the opposition from Hindutva outfits. The VHP leader Sharan Pumpwell talking to The India Express branded Fr. Stan Swamy an “Urban Naxal” and stated that such a renaming would indirectly challenge the nation’s unity.

Father Stan Swamy was one among several activists arrested by National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the Bhima Koregaon case under the stringent UAPA. Even after the European Unions and United Nations’ repeated advocacy for Fr. Stan Swamy and the ‘false charges’ against him, he was continuously denied bail. He was denied rights to public health and medical care in jail while suffering from Parkinson’s disease. Father Stan Swamy’s death in custody in July this year was condemned by scholars and activists who termed it as “an institutional murder by the inhumane state.”

Opposing St. Aloysius College’s attempt to rename the park after Father Stan Swamy, a Hindutva ideologue had said that “college will be responsible if any untoward incident takes place.” The Hindu right-wing groups threatened to start a protest if the college goes ahead with the plan.

The open letter states that this “blatantly illegal behaviour is a consequence of the free-run that is being given to these fascist organizations in coastal Karnataka.”

“These organizations are imposing social apartheid, interfering in the private affairs of citizens and acting against the Constitutional principle of fraternity by engaging in daily acts of violence and intimidation with impunity. Members of these organizations have engaged in the lynching of minorities across the country, conducting riots and engaging in violence to push minorities into second-class citizenship,” the letter reads.

The open letter called for immediate actions to be taken against such ‘criminal intimidation’ and urged the district administration and police to provide adequate protection to the college to ensure that there is no interference in its private affairs.