Another seer picks up Agarwal’s fast
HARIDWAR/DEHRADUN: Swami Gopal Das on Friday started indefinite hunger strike at Matri Sadan to take forward the save Ganga crusade started by environmental activist G D Agarwal, who died at a Rishikesh hospital on the 112th day of his fast.
Das started the agitation with a number of seers declared their support saying they will continue the peaceful path of protest against the government’s inaction. Swaroopanand Saraswati, the Shankaracharya of Jyotirmath Peetham, said the community of seers will carry forward Agarwal’s agitation and ensure his “unaccomplished mission is realised”.
Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad national president Mahant Narendra Giri Maharaj said Agarwal’s demise was “a major blow to the country and the cause of Ganga”.
During his fast Agarwal had donated his body to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Rishikesh. He had signed affidavit before two witnesses—Brahamchari Dayanand and the seer’s nephew Chetan Garg—on August 28, said AIIMS officials. “He had already decided to donate his body to AIIMS. And we simply followed the procedure. Nowhere had he mentioned that the body shall be taken out for last respects to be paid,” Dr Ravi Kant, AIIMS director said.
Three months before his death, the Uttarakhand High Court on July 11 had said in its order that Agarwal’s life was “precious and is required to be protected/preserved by the state functionaries” and had even directed that “it shall be the responsibility of the principal secretary of the home department to protect the life“of Sanand. The court had even directed the chief secretary to hold parleys with the Swami to address the issue raised by him. However, the state government took stay on the direction from the Supreme Court.
Environmental activist Anil Prakash Joshi, who is also founder of Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organisation, said they are all collectively responsible for his death. “Why should just a person sacrifice his life for Ganga? He wasn’t on fast for himself. Had we collectively come up with a strong voice on the Ganga issue, the government wouldn’t have been insensitive like this,” he said.
RAHUL, GADKARI CONDOLE AGARWAL’S DEATH
Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party on Friday condoled GD Agrawal’s death. Congress president Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “He sacrificed his life for saving the Ganga. Saving the river is equivalent to saving the nation. We will never forget him and we will take his fight forward.”
Union minister for water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation, Nitin Gadkari on Friday said in a statement, “Prof Agrawal’s death is an irreparable loss for the country. His dedicated service to the environment and to River Ganga will always be remembered .... ”
■ During his fast, the save Ganga crusader, GD Agarwal had donated his body to the AIIMS, Rishikesh.