01:49 GMT01 August 2021
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    The families of India's political prisoners have expressed concerns over the repeated cancellation of bail pleas in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Indian government has been accused of cracking down on dissent by arresting academics, students, rights activists, and poets under stringent anti-terror laws.

    India's opposition parties have slammed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's federal government after the country's oldest under-trial prisoner passed away at a hospital in Mumbai on Monday.

    The 84-year-old Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist Stan Swamy was charged with violating an anti-terror law in October 2020 for his alleged involvement in the Bhima Koregaon case. Swamy was denied bail on medical grounds even though he suffered from Parkinson's disease.

    Taking to Twitter, Bihar-based Rashtriya Janata Dal (RDJ) wrote in Hindi, "Congratulations to the dictator of the country for the murder of Father Stan Swamy".

    Fourteen academicians and activists implicated in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon case are still languishing in jail. Clashes marred the commemoration of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon in the state of Maharashtra, where one person was killed and several suffered injuries.

    The country's main opposition leader Rahul Gandhi offered condolences and wrote: "He (Swamy) deserved justice and humaneness".

    Demanding the release of all political prisoners, the Communist Party of India Marxist-Leninist (CPIML) said: "He was murdered by the fascist state".


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