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Five Instances From The Life Of Fr. Stan Swamy That Are A Source Of Inspiration

Updated: Jul 6, 2021

Stanislaus Lourduswamy, better known as Fr. Stan Swamy, was a Jesuit priest and human rights activist who spent most of his life fighting for the rights of the tribals and Adivasis of India. He breathed his last on July 5, 2021 at a hospital in Mumbai. His death has witnessed an outpouring of grief as he was one of the foremost Adivasi Rights activists in India.

Father Stan Swamy will forever live in the hearts of those whose lives he touched and improved. Here are five of his memorable work that we can draw inspiration from:

  1. Working for the marginalized and the poor: Born on April 26, 1937, in a village in Tamil Nadu’s Tiruchirappalli, Swamy went to a well-known St Joseph’s School in the district where he came in touch with Jesuits. He joined the order and began to help the marginalized people he met. Through his order he spent two years at West Singhbhum where he witnessed the exploitation of Adivasis and based on this experience decided to dedicate his life to helping them.

  2. Helping free falsely-accused Adivasis: Father Stan Swamy was instrumental in organising Adivasis around their Constitutional rights. He had filed a path breaking Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Jharkhand High Court (High Court, WPC (PIL) No 4212 of 2017) exposing the incarceration and praying for the release of about 4,000 tribal youth languishing in prisons of Jharkhand.

  3. Setting up relief projects: Stan Swamy spent a majority of his life working with the Adivasis of Jharkhand. In 1971, when he became the Director of the Catholic Relief Services Charity for the area, he set up a godown for relief supplies and also arranged for vehicles so that the relief projects can run smoothly.

  4. Helping Adivasis recognize their rights: In the 1970s, Father Stan Swamy decided to live in a Ho village of Jharkhand, and learn their language. For this purpose he moved to Badaibir village where he set up a centre where he taught the local youth to think critically and recognize their rights. Father Swamy left the state in 1975 to join the Indian Social Institute Bangalore, but in 1991, he returned to Jharkhand and revived JOHAR – the Jharkhandi Organisation for Human Rights. The organization worked towards advocating for popular causes and reviving the traditional self-governance (Munda-Manki) system of the Ho society.

  5. Fighting against Adivasi displacement: He is the founder of Vistapan Virodhi Janvikash Andolan (VVJA), an all India platform for different movements that are campaigning against human rights violations caused by the displacement of Adivasis, Dalits, and farmers from their lands. The platform has supported vulnerable communities who face eviction from their ancestral lands, fight against the land-grabbing nexus. This organization also facilitates sustainable development models for the Adivasi stakeholders.

his life spanning 84 years, Fr. Stan Swamy became an inspiration for many due to his active stance against atrocities committed towards the Adivasis of India. He was in the news this past year for his arrest by the police on what civil society insists to be false allegations of being a member of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) and involvement in a conspiracy to instigate caste violence in the Bhima Koregaon village near Pune in 2018. The activist had been charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and terror-related offences of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act also known as UAPA. In an article published on Scroll.in, Tony PM and Peter Martin write, “To those of us who have known Swamy, these claims are absurd….To stand up and fight for justice and truth, no matter what religion, culture, and ethnicity one belongs to: that is the mantra of Stanislaus Lourduswamy, popularly known as Stan Swamy. What matters most for him is to be humane in all his relationships.”


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