From Bhima Koregaon to the death of Stan Swamy, a timeline of key events
Jesuit priest and activist Stan Swamy died of health complications on July 5 at the age of 84. Swamy was arrested, along with several activists, for his alleged connection to the Bhima Koregaon violence in 2017 and booked under India’s stringent anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. His death has brought renewed focus on the UAPA and its place in India’s democracy.
Here is a detailed timeline of events in the case, leading up to Swamy’s death.
December 31, 2017: A coalition of several organisations conducts Elgar Parishad at Shaniwar Wada in Pune to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. The battle was fought on January 1, 1818, between the army of Peshwa Bajirao of the Maratha confederacy, and a force of the British East India Company that included several members of the Mahar community, a Dalit sub-caste. The battle was won by the British and is seen by Dalits as a defeat of the Peshwa forces, notorious for their caste practices. On January 1, 1927, BR Ambedkar visited the memorial and popularised the celebrations.
January 1, 2018: Violence breaks out at Bhima Koregaon during the 200th-anniversary celebrations. One person dies and several others are injured in the clashes.
January 2, 2018: First, a First Information Report (FIR) is registered at Pimpri Police Station in Pune under the Indian Penal Code and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act alleging the involvement of religious leaders Sambhaji Bhide and his associate Milind Ekbote.
January 8, 2018: The Vishrambaug Police Station in Pune registers a second FIR based on a complaint lodged by local builder Tushar Damgude. He alleges that members of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and Kabir Kala Manch, a cultural group, spread hatred through provocative songs, plays, and speeches at Elgar Parishad and conspired to foment violence at Bhima Koregaon.
April 17, 2018: Pune Police search the residences of eight people: activist Rona Wilson (Delhi), lawyer Surendra Gadling (Nagpur), activist Sudhir Dhavale (Mumbai), activist Harshali Potdar (Mumbai), activist Sagar Gorakhe (Pune), activist Deepak Dhengale (Pune), activist Ramesh Gaychor (Pune) and activist Jyoti Jagtap (Pune). The computers of Wilson and Gadling are seized.
May 17, 2018: Sections of the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act are added to the case after the police allege it found incriminating documents from the residence of the accused.
June 6, 2018: Pune Police arrest Wilson, Dhawale, and Gadling. Police search residences and workplaces of land rights activist, Mahesh Raut, and professor and women’s rights activist, Shoma Sen. Raut and Sen too are arrested in the case.
August 28, 2018: Residences of nine more people, including Stan Swamy’s house in Ranchi, is raided by Pune Police. Police make five more arrests — lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, activists Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves, poet Varavara Rao and academic Gautam Navlakha. They are kept under house arrests pursuant to Supreme Court orders.
September 28, 2018: The Supreme Court rejects petitions seeking a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the arrests.
October-November 2018: Bharadwaj, Ferreira, Gonsalves, and Rao are re-arrested and taken to Pune. Gautam Navlakha receives temporary protection from arrest. During this period, academic Anand Teltumbde and Swamy are added as accused in the case.
November 15, 2018: Police file first charge sheet alleging a larger conspiracy and Maoist links.
February 21, 2019: Police file a supplementary charge sheet, claiming that the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers, with which some of the accused were associated, is a front organisation for Maoists.
June 2019: Swamy’s house is raided again.
December 2019-January 2020: A coalition government of non-BJP parties comes to power in Maharashtra and Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar expresses the need for an SIT to re-investigate the case.
January 24, 2020: A day after a meeting between senior government officials and police officers, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) transfers the case from Pune Police to the National Investigation Agency (NIA). With the change in the investigation agency, the case gets transferred from Pune to special NIA court in Mumbai.
April 14, 2020: Teltumbde and Navlakha surrender before the NIA after the Supreme Court refuses to extend their protection from arrest.
July 25, 2020: NIA interrogates Swamy for nearly 15 hours at his house in Ranchi.
July 28, 2020: NIA arrests Delhi University associate professor Hany Babu after raiding his house twice.
September 8, 2020: NIA arrests three members of Kabir Kala Manch, Sagar Gorkhe, Ramesh Gaichor, and Jyoti Jagtap.
September 30, 2020: Swamy asked to come to Mumbai on October 5. Swamy expresses his inability to reach due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and his old age.
October 8, 2020: NIA arrests Swamy from Ranchi
October 9, 2020: Swamy brought to Mumbai. Special court sends him to judicial custody.
October 10, 2020: NIA files supplementary charge sheet.
October 18, 2020: Swamy files interim bail application on medical grounds.
October 22, 2020: Swamy’s plea for interim bail on medical grounds is rejected by the special court.
November 2020: Swamy applies for regular bail.
November 6, 2020: Swamy moves court asking for permission to allow him a straw and sipper to consume liquids as he suffers from Parkinson’s disease.
November 26, 2020: NIA responds that it does not have the straw and sipper.
December 4, 2020: Swamy receives a straw and sipper.
March 2021: Swamy’s regular bail plea is rejected by the special NIA court.
April 2021: Swamy appeals in the Bombay high court against the special court’s order.
May 19, 2021: High Court directs state-run JJ Hospital to form an expert panel to examine Swamy’s health. Prison authorities inform the high court that Swamy was vaccinated on May 18 and is in good health.
May 21, 2021: Swamy appears before the high court bench of justice S J Kathawalla through video conference, tells the bench his health has steadily deteriorated since he was imprisoned, and expresses his desire to go back to Ranchi.
May 28, 2021: High court bench of justice SS Shinde directs shifting Swamy to Holy Family Hospital, Bandra, for 15 days. The state’s request for shifting him to Sir JJ hospital is rejected. Swamy asked to bear the cost of treatment.
May 28, 2021, 9 pm: Swamy shifted to the intensive care unit (ICU) of Holy Family hospital and put on oxygen support.
May 30, 2021: Swamy’s lawyers inform prison authorities that he tested positive for Covid-19.
June 10, 2021: High court extends Swamy’s stay at Bandra hospital till June 18 after it was informed that he was shifted back to ICU due to heart complications.
June 17, 2021: Hospital submits the medical report of Swamy. High court extends his stay at Holy Family Hospital till July 5 due to serious medical problems.
July 3, 2021: High court adjourns hearing of Swamy’s bail plea to July 6.
July 4, 2021: Swamy suffers cardiac arrest at 4.30am, put on ventilator support.
July 5, 2021: Dr Ian Dsouza, medical director of Holy Family hospital, informs the high court that Swamy passed away at 1.24pm.