Skip to main content

Haridwar Professor-Swami's death was "mob lynching", state-sponsored "killing"

By Sandeep Pandey, Lubna Sarwath, Gurumoorthy M*
Whether it was a slightly high dose of Potassium at the All-Indian Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Rishikesh which ultimately caused cardiac arrest or deliberate neglect by the government over 112 days of fast-unto-death to demand a law for conservation of Ganga by Professor Guru Das Agrawal turned Swami Sanand, the Central government, and especially the Prime Minister, will be held responsible for his death. Matre Sadan, the ashram in Haridwar where Prof Agrawal fasted, has accused the government of murder by poisoning him.
A 2011 case of murder by poisoning of Swami Nigmanand, a young hermit also associated with Matre Sadan, who fasted for 115 days against illegal sand mining in Ganga, is pending in the court.
Prof Agrawal had forewarned the government about his fast by writing to the Prime Minister twice and then again wrote to him twice during the fast. The Prime Minister, otherwise known to open his mind regularly in public broadcasts known as 'Man ki Baat,' chose not to respond, until after Prof Agrawal's death when he tweeted a condolence.
The Piime Minister has similarly maintained silence on critical issues like violence against Muslims, Dalits and Me Too campaign.
The governments play the trick of making an accused out of a victim to politically coverup, and it has become more of a wont under the present Bhartiya Janta Party government in power. Some unknown person is being accused by the authorities of not letting Prof Agrawal give up his fast.
Those who know Prof Agrawal well are aware of his steely resolve. He would tell his well wishers during the marathon fast, “Worry about Ganga, not about me.” He had chosen the beginning of his fast on Ganga Dussehra, giving up water on the first day of Navratra and predicted his demise before Vijayadashmi. As a true scientist he even planned his death meticulously.
The government by accusing Prof Agrawal of continuing his fast under duress wants to divert attention from the main demands that he was making of the government: to enact a law for conservation of Ganga, to halt all hydroelectric projects on it, to ban mining and deforestation activities in its vicinity and to form a council consisting of people sensitive to Ganga to oversee its interest.
It was too embarrassing for the government whose Prime Minister contested his parliamentary election from Varanasi declaring that he got a call from mother Ganga, which altered the name of Water Resources ministry to include Ganga Rejuvenation in it, which committed to clean Ganga by 2019 and then revised the deadline to 2020, which has already spent 23% of the sanctioned Rs 23,323 crore budget for the purpose, to admit that the health of Ganga has worsened instead of improving during its regime and therefore Prof Agrawal was forced to go on fast.
Whereas the country and the world is witnessing horrific protests, which received a stamp of approval by chief of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), the ideological parent of ruling BJP, against the entry of women of all ages to Sabarimala temple in Kerala, which has been facilitated by an order of the Supreme Court, eerie silence of the cadres of Hindutva organisations, with proclivity for various degrees of militancy and who leave no opportunity of exploiting people's religious sentiments, on the issue of protecting Ganga being raised by Prof Agrawal exposes the true nature of right wing organisations.
It is clear that politics of polarisation takes precedence over religious-cultural-nationalism issues. RSS has various weapons in its arsenal. This time it chose ostracism of Prof Agrawal on a mass scale and hence it was mob lynching by adopting stoic silence and managing the media so that Prof Agrawal's fast isn't highlighted.
Compare the mass hysteria created by Anna Hazare's short fasts a few years back in which RSS played a role to build it up to conspicuously absent response from anywhere in the country to Prof Agrawal's long fast. Was Prof Agrawal raising an issue less important than corruption? Corruption can probably be fixed more easily than the damage to environment being caused by our developmental policies.
The support to a retrogressive stand on Sabarimala temple entry by RSS-BJP is shameful as is their insensitivity towards a progressive issue of Ganga rejuvenation. Even though RSS chief has vehemently resented that it is always Hindus who face persecution, the BJP should answer why Muslim women were chosen for 'equality' through an ordinance which jails husbands on a civil matrimonial issue of triple talaq while denying equality to Hindu women who laid fundamental rights claim to visit the Sabarimala temple?
Prof  Agrawal was an extraordinary scholar not just in modern sense of knowledge but also in the traditional sense of wisdom. On top of it he was a saint, in true sense, not the kind whose sectarian outlook exacerbates religious polarisation in society, resulting in strife. In fact, Prof Agrawal was against exhibitionist tendencies of religion. The death of such a saintly figure is going to cost the government dear. The saints of Matre Sadan have decided to continue the struggle of Prof Agrawal by resorting to fasting from 24 October, 2018.
The outlook of Prof Agrawal was at variance with that of government, because of which no reconciliation was possible. As an example on a copy of the draft 'The National River Ganga (Rejuvenation, Protection and Management) Bill, 2018, prepared by the government which was given to him during his fast by Rajiv Ranjan Mishra, Director General of National Mission for Clean Ganga, for his comments he changed the sentence 'Parliament declared it expedient and in larger public interest to take control for prevention, control, abatement of pollution and rejuvenation of river Ganga,' to 'Parliament declared it expedient and in larger public interest to lay down the responsibility for maintaining desirable flows and water, sediment and ecological quality and thus rejuvenation of river Ganga.'
The government has conceived of a 'Ganga Protection Corps' as an armed forces which shall follow the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, for the purpose of enforcement, rejuvenation, protection and management of river Ganga under the proposed Act treating offence punishable as cognizable and non-bailable.
Prof Agrawal on the contrary wanted people sensitive to and with a deep understanding about Ganga to form a council which would take responsibility for protection of the river. It has been alleged that Prof Agrawal wanted a religious body to decide on how Ganga ought to be taken care of. This is not true.
He wanted a 20 member Ganga Bhakta ('Devotee') Parishad, provisionally till June 2019, to be nominated by the Prime Minister, who were to take an oath standing in waters of Ganga to act in its interest. He nowhere said that these 20 people have to be necessarily religious.
In fact, Prof Agrawal didn't want pliant bureaucrats, working to commercially exploit Ganga in nexus with their political masters, to be heading the body to take care of Ganga's interest. In less than five years head of NMCG has been changed seven times. Prof Agrawal wanted an Indian Institute of Technology kind of autonomy for this supreme body on Ganga. Government's approach is bureaucratic and it wants to protect Ganga by policing. Prof Agrawal's outlook was humane and ecological and he wanted to protect Ganga by people's participation.
---
*Contacts: ashaashram@yahoo.com , sarwath.lubna@gmail.com, mguru.aid@gmail.com

Comments

TRENDING

Quit India Movement 'betrayal' and dubious role of Hindu Mahasabha, RSS leaders

By Shamsul Islam*
After the recent guillotine of Article 370, Hindutva ideologue Ram Madhav, while celebrating the occasion stated that it was honouring of the sacrifices of Dr Shyam Prasad Mukherjee and thousands others who laid down their lives for its removal. It is to be noted that Dr Mukherjee was a cadre of RSS and was groomed into a Hindutva leader by another Hindutva icon, VD Savarkar.

Impact of state repression? Kashmir's 65% people prefer independence: Cambridge study

By Rajiv Shah 
Even as the Government of India’s controversial move to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two union territories is not only refusing to down die but has acquired international dimensions, a recent study, published by the Cambridge University Press, has claimed “pro-independence attitudes” among that 65% of Kashmiris, warning, this sentiment worsens when the state machinery resorts “repressive violence”.

Congress' anti-democratic laws led to Modi govt's 'Constitutional' changes: Scholars

Counterview Desk
A large number of academics* said to be belonging to several Indian and international institutions, even as taking strong exception to the Narendra Modi government's alleged move to amend the Constitution through "illegitimate" means, have taken strong exception to their colleagues in academia who we have become "all too accustomed to adopting a calculated silence in the face of such indignities."

Kashmir normal? Schoolboys, teenagers being arbitrarily picked up, detained: Report

Counterview Desk
A four-person team, consisting of Jean Dr├Ęze, well-known development economist; Kavita Krishnan, who is with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist); Maimoona Mollah of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA); and Vimal Bhai of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), back from a five-day fact-finding mission (August 9-13) from Kashmir, has said that people they spoke to “expressed their pain, anger, and sense of betrayal against the Government of India.”
In a report, “Kashmir Caged”, released along with a short eight-minute film, they said, the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, dissolution of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and bifurcating it into two Union Territories, is not being supported by anyone they met, except for BJP spokesperson on Kashmir affairs Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, who claimed 46% vote share in J&K.
Excerpts from the report: When our flight landed, and the airlines staff announced that passeng…

Skewed sex ratio 'behind' ban on rural Thakor girls' mobile use, inter-caste marriage

By Jharna Pathak*
On July 14, 2019, the Thakor community of 12 villages of Banaskantha district in Gujarat announced a ban on the use of mobile phones by unmarried women. Simultaneously, they imposed penalties on inter-caste marriages. The family of any girl of the community marrying without the consent of her parents would now be fined Rs 1.5 lakh while that of a boy marrying a girl from other community without his family’s consent would be penalised with a fine of Rs 2 lakh.

Were JVCs, rock cutters 'reinforcing' Statue of Unity base on dry Narmada riverbed?

By Kevin Antao* 
Having seen photographs and write-ups on the world’s tallest Statue of Unity, constructed and assembled off Narmada dam in South Gujarat, I always wanted to visit the site and see for myself the great marvel that it was being made out to be.

Sardar Patel's 'notable' achievement on J&K: Insertion of Article 370 in Constitution

By Shamsul Islam*
One of the "truths" manufactured in the boudhik shibirs (ideological training camps) of the RSS is that it was Jawaharlal Nehru who forced Article 370 on India while Sardar Patel, the first home minister of India, was opposed to it. The RSS leaders both inside the Modi government and outside ceaselessly keep on blaming Jawaharlal Nehru as the sole architect of Article 370, giving Kashmir special status.

Kashmir kayoed, bhakts 'jubilant': Much like crowds when Hitler purged Jews, Catholics

By Fr Cedric Prakash sj*
August 12, 2019 was the great festival of Eid al-Adha (incidentally, for Jews, Christians and Muslims – the sacrifice of Abraham is a very significant one); for the people of Kashmir however, this year Eid was a sad day indeed, what with the lockdown and communications blockade!

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt promotes low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.

J&K curbs 'violate' International Covenant on civil, political rights: Letter to Modi

Counterview Desk
The International Federation for Human Rights (IFDH), a Paris-based human rights NGO with global presence, has sent an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying the decision to “reconfigurate” Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), remove its special status and impose a “complete lock-down of the region” violates Kashmiris’ “fundamental right to self-determination and their right to participate in crucial decisions that affect their lives.”