June 15, 2011

‘Save Ganga’ crusader dies after 115 days of fast

As Baba Ramdev broke his nine-day fast at Dehradun’s Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences (HIMS), a fellow fasting sadhu, Swami Nigamanand in a nearby ward lay dying to protest the Uttarakhand government’s refusal to ban mining along a stretch of Ganga near Rishikesh. On Monday, he died unnoticed, after fasting for 115 days.
The 35-year-old ‘Save the Ganga’ crusader, a seer at Haridwar’s Matri Sadan Ashram, had been on a fast since February 19. On April 27, officials shifted him to Haridwar district hospital as his condition deteriorated. But he still refused to touch food. When Nigamanand slipped into a coma on May 2, he was rushed to HIMS and put on life support system.
Seizing the issue over the death of the fasting sadhu, the Congress hit out at Uttarakhand’s BJP chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank for tending to Ramdev to gain political mileage and ignoring Nigamanand, who was fasting for a serious cause.
On May 15, a Matri Sadan functionary, Brahamchari Dayanand, had lodged an FIR at Haridwar kotwali accusing a member of a stone crusher association and a senior doctor for poisoning the swami. Matri Sadan Ashram also accused local police of succumbing to the pressure and dragging its feet to arrest those named in FIR.
The Uttarakhand government had on December 10, 2010, banned quarrying and stone-crushing along the Ganga, as the entire region was eco-sensitive. However, the association of stonecrushers in Haridwar managed to get a stay on the order.


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