M A I N   N E W S

This fasting Baba died away from the spotlight
Sandeep Rawat
Tribune News Service

Haridwar, June 13
While yoga guru Ramdev hogged the media limelight as religious leaders and political dignitaries made a beeline for the Himalayan Hospital at Jollygrant near Rishikesh to offer him juice to end his fast on Sunday, in another room in the same hospital lay another saint, Swami Nigmanand.

The latter had been fasting for the past two months to save the Ganga. Nigmanad died unsung early this morning. During the action-packed past three days, when the political and religious leaders converged at the hospital to meet Ramdev, no one cared to visit the unconscious young saint.

Swami Nigmanand of Matra Sadan passed away at the hospital at 2.30 am, leaving his followers and even his guru shocked. He had been on fast-unto-death since February 19, 2011, for the 68th consecutive day, when he was forcibly hospitalised by the district administration.

Nigmanand, who died at 34, was agitating against illegal quarrying being carried out in the Ganga river-bed with the alleged connivance of officials and quarrying mafia. After several rounds of litigation in the court, Matra Sadan (to which Swami Nigmanand belonged) won the case against illegal quarrying which still continued, forcing the young saint to observe a fast-unto-death to save the Ganga. The founder of the Matra Sadan Ashram, Shivanand Maharaj, the guru of the deceased, has announced that he too would lay down his life on the burning pyre of his disciple, if the state government failed to carry out a high-level probe into the death.

He also demanded the postmortem of Nigmanand to be carried out by doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, (AIIMS), New Delhi, as they no longer have faith in the district administration. He accused the district administration of playing a role in the death of Nigmanand. There was a raging controversy about how the saint was forcibly taken away by the district administration from his ashram and admitted to the district hospital following deterioration of his health on April 27, 2011. He went into coma. According to his associates, he was allegedly administered poison by the doctors, in connivance with the quarrying mafia. Brahamchari Dayanand, an associate of Matra Sadan, alleged that it was during his treatment at Haridwar hospital that a ‘suspicious’ nurse had injected poison into Nigmanand, after which his condition drastically deteriorated. A FIR was also lodged by the ashram functionaries against the medical superintendent of the government hospital at Haridwar

As his condition deteriorated, he was shifted to the Doon hospital but later referred to the Himalayan Hospital at Jollygrant. He did not regain consciousness and died.

Local people too were upset as the news of Swami Nigmanand’s death reached Haridwar. Many termed him equivalent to a true martyr since he was fighting for a social cause, while the administration and the BJP government did not pay any heed to this movement, probably under the influence of the quarrying mafia.

Motives of the state government have been questioned. Especially under the scanner has been the role of the local minister Madan Kaushik who accompanied Ramdev to Jolly Grant hospital but never visited Swami Nigmanand who had been fasting for more than two months.

For the next two days, Nigmanand’s body will be kept at the premises of the Matra Sadan to enable the devotees as well as the common public to pay their last tributes to the departed saint.





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