Hindustan Times (Delhi)

CM targets Centre over ‘disappeara­nce’ of Ganga activist

- HT Correspond­ent htreporter­s@hindustant­imes.com


NEWDELHI/DEHRADUN: The alleged “disappeara­nce” of a Ganga activist, Mahant Gopal Das, from All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) led to a furore on Wednesday with Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal accusing the Union government of “removing” him from the hospital. Amid claims and countercla­ims, the whereabout­s of the 36-year-old activist, who has been on a fastunto-death demanding restoratio­n of river Ganga and its ecology, was unknown till late Wednesday evening.

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) MLA from Malviya Nagar, Somnath Bharti, was the first to tweet pictures of Das’s father and other people sitting outside the office of medical superinten­dent (MS), AIIMS. Bharti alleged that Das was removed from the hospital because he held the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government accountabl­e for cleaning the Ganga.

Quoting Bharti’s tweet, Kejriwal urged the Centre to hand Das over to his family immediatel­y. “Sant Gopal Das was on fast for cow protection and cleaning the Ganga. Modi government has forcefully removed him from AIIMS,” Kejriwal t weeted. Describing Das as a “real” cow protector, he urged the Centre to “hand him over to his father”.

Following the death of Ganga activist Professor GD Agarwal on October 11 in AIIMS, Rishikesh, on the 112th day of his fast, Das continued the crusade at the ashram in Haridwar. On October 13, 114th day of his fast, the district administra­tion shifted him to AIIMS, Rishikesh. He was on protest since June 24.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) said Kejriwal was politicisi­ng the issue because of his “Modi phobia”.

“This is a glaring example of how Kejriwal exploits every situation to get political mileage out of it. I am sure he is not concerned about the issue,” said Vijender Gupta, leader of the Opposition in the Delhi assembly and the BJP MLA from Rohini.

The AIIMS management said Das was referred from the All India Institute of Ayurveda in Sarita Vihar a few weeks ago, but was discharged and sent home on Tuesday.

“He received treatment for nearly two to three weeks at AIIMS. He was counselled and accepted feed through Ryles tube [a feeding tube through the nose]. After that, his condition improved and he was in fact, walking around in the ICU,” said Dr Randeep Guleria, AIIMS director.

On Saturday, the medical board decided that he was fit to be discharged. “How can it be a case of a missing person? He was fully conscious and he requested that he be dropped to Dehradun. We arranged for a vehicle and our paramedica­l staff accompanie­d him,” said Dr Guleria.

A Delhi police officer said a missing person’s complaint was filed by Das’s family members. “We got in touch with the AIIMS administra­tion. We were told Das was shifted to Haridwar on Tuesday. Uttarkhand police has been informed about him,” said the officer who asked not to be named.

The followers of Matri Sadan Ashram in Haridwar, with which Das was associated with, supported AAP’S allegation­s. “He was admitted to AIIMS, New Delhi. But, when another Ganga activist, Hemant Dhyani went to him on Tuesday, he (Das) was not there. Dhyani only met some disciples,” said Brahmchari Dayanand, a disciple of Matri Sadan Ashram.

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