An­other seer picks up Agar­wal’s fast

Hindustan Times (Amritsar) - - Nation - HT Cor­re­spon­dents let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com ■

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 .... ”

PTI

■ Dur­ing his fast, the save Ganga cru­sader, GD Agar­wal had do­nated his body to the AIIMS, Rishikesh.

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