Skip to main content

Agitating for martyrdom of soldiers, why is BJP silent on saints dying for Ganga?

By Sandeep Pandey*
In 2011 Swami Nigmanand died on the 115th day of his fast against illegal mining in Haridwar. Matri Sadan, the ashram with which he was associated alleges that he was killed by poisoning in the hospital at the behest of a mining mafia. Swami Gokulanand, who sat on first fast organised by Matri Sadan along with Swami Nigmanand in 1998, was murdered in 2003 in Nainital by mining mafia.
In 2014 Baba Nagnath died on 114th day of his fast for conservation of Ganga in Varanasi. Last year Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, earlier known as Professor Guru Das Agrawal at Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur and who served as the founding member-secretary of Central Pollution Control Board, died on October 11, 112th day of his sixth fast.
Sant Gopal Das, who also started his fast for conservation of Ganga on 24th June, 2018 has been missing since 6th December from Dehradun. 26 years old Brahmachari Atmabodhanand of Kerala, with a resolve to continue the struggle of Swami Sanand, started his fast on 24th October at the same place where Swami Sanand had fasted.
He has now completed more than 135 days of fast. Swami Punyanand, also of Matri Sadan, has given up food grains and is on fruit diet, ready to go on fast if anything happens to Brahmachari Atmabodhanand.
Brahmachari Atmabodhanand went to the Ardha Kumbh in Prayagraj during his fast for about twenty days with his mentor Swami Shivanand but no government representative thought it fit to meet him. The Uttar Pradesh cabinet meeting took place there, senior ruling party leaders including the Chief Minister went there but nobody had time for Brahmachari Atmabodhanand.
Matri Sadan has raised the question that when the government is not interested in dialogue and didn't care about Swami Sanand's life and nor does it care about Brahmachari Atmabodhanand's, then why does it send team of doctors to examine Brahmachari Atmabodhanand's health?
Truth is that if water was not released from dams at Tehri, Haridwar, Bijnore and Narora, there would not have been sufficient water at Prayagraj to take a holy dip in. The water of Ganga was cleaned between 15th January and 4th March, 2019, the period of Ardha Kumbh artificially but without its aquatic biodiversity, which implies it was an adhoc arrangement.
Question is, when the government is willing to do something to gain political mileage, why doesn't it implement a permanent solution in the interest of people and Ganga. Scientists believe that Ganga will not be clean unless a minimum volume of flow is ensured in the river. Dams obstruct this flow.
Professor GD Agrawal had been demanding an uninterrupted flow and a clean Ganga. He wanted all ongoing and proposed hydroelectric power projects on Ganga to be scrapped and all illegal mining to be halted.
After his martyrdom when the government enquired from Swami Shivanand, the head of Matri Sadan who is leading the struggle of saints and has taken a personal resolve to stake the lives of saints of his ashram one after another, including his own life, as to what was the 'botttomline' of his demands, he replied that three hydroelectric projects, Singauli Bhatwadi on Mandakini, Tapowan Vishnugad and Vishnugad Pipalkoti on Alaknanda and mining in Ganga must be stopped.
When soldiers are martyred there is widespread emotional outburst throughout the country. People come out on streets, offer help to famillies of deceased soldiers or erect their statues. The government has little control over the fate of soldiers.
However, it can prevent the martyrdom of saints. Why is the Narendra Modi government not willing to dialogue with these saints? Even the common people seem to be insensitive towards these saints. Especially when the idea of nationalism is being given a religious colour.
People take a public stand on the issue of construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya and for preventing the entry of women in Sabrimala temple of Kerala, which includes the two national parties Bhartiya Janata Party and Congress, but do not sympathise with saints who stake their lives for Ganga.
It is inexplicable why the BJP which came to power on the agenda of Hindutva, whose Prime Ministerial candidate declared that he got a call from mother Ganga before contesting election from Varanasi and Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, which doesn't leave any opportunity to exploit people's religious sentiments are not with the fasting saints.
Nearly 40% population of the country which lives next to Ganga or one of its tributaries, stands to directly benefit from clean Ganga whereas it is unclear who'll benefit from Ram temple in Ayodhya, yet RSS-BJP are silent on the issue of fasting saints.
This demonstrates that politics of Hindutva is not interested in religious issues unless there is a potential for polarisation of votes in its favour. Hence for RSS-BJP, it is not the people but merely political power that matters.
Also, the difference between Hindutva and Hinduism has emerged more clearly because of this. Whereas people believing in Hindutva ideology are not averse to taking lives of others, for example in communal riots, lynching in the name of protection of cows, assassination of intellectuals, etc., saints who truly believe in the philosophy of Hinduism will stake their own lives instead.
Moreover, the saints willing to give up their lives are in favour of uninterrupted flow of rivers where those who condone deaths in the name of politics of Hindutva are interested in damming rivers and stopping rivers going to Pakistan, not realising the consequences, either of their politics or of tampering with rivers. This may explain the indifference of RSS-BJP towards fasting saints.
A foot march has been organised by some people's organisations in support of fasting saints who stake their lives for Ganga from Delhi to Haridwar during March 9 and 17, 2019.
---
*Magsaysay award winning social activist. Contact: ashaashram@yahoo.com

Comments

TRENDING

Arrest of Fr Stan Swamy: UN makes public letter seeking explanation from Govt of India

Counterview Desk In a letter to the Government of India (GoI), three senior United Nations (UN) officials – Elina Steinerte, vice-chair of the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention; Mary Lawlor, special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders; and Fernand de Varennes, special rapporteur on minority issues – have said that the arrest of veteran activist Father Stan Swamy in October 2020 marks “the escalation of harassment the human rights defender has been subjected to since 2018.”

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Farm laws 'precursor' to free trade deal envisaged by US corporates to allow GMO

By Rajiv Shah Did the Government of India come up with the three farm laws, first rushed by promulgating ordinances in June 2020, to not just open the country’s agricultural sector to the corporate sector but also as a precursor to comply with the requirements of the United States for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), as envisaged by the outgoing US president Donald Trump?

Modi govt 'implementing' IMF-envisaged corporate takeover of Indian agriculture

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak* The surge of wealth of Indian billionaires and the Modi-led BJP government’s onslaught on poor, marginalised and farmers continue to grow simultaneously as masses face annihilating pandemic of coronavirus. There is 90 % rise of Indian billionaire’s wealth over last one decade. It is not accidental.

A new fad in India, coding-for-toddlers culture needs to be 'nipped' in the bud

By Aditya Pandey* We are all aware of the dire consequences of subjecting young kids to intense academic pressure from an early age. In India, we have coaching institutes like FIITJEE and Resonance offering programmes for 6th standard kids to prepare them for “NTSE, IJSO, PRMO and other Olympiads”. The duration of these programmes is around 175 hours – hours that could've been spent playing games and making friends instead.

Differing from Ambedkar, Kancha Ilaiah holds a 'different' theory of caste system

By Banavath Aravind* I was introduced to Kancha Ilaiah’s work when I was about 20 years old. He was then in the midst of a controversy for a chapter in his book "Post-Hindu India: A Discourse in Dalit-Bahujan, Socio-Spiritual and Scientific Revolution", which termed the Baniya community as social smugglers. During many of his debates, I had come to notice his undeterred fighting spirit in trying to bring up certain fundamental social issues that were hitherto undiscussed. I eventually came across some of his works and started reading them silently. I’m deliberately stressing upon the word ‘silently’ here, as this was the kind of silence particularly associated with sensitive social issues like caste, religion, etc. But, as I write this essay, I feel silences on sensitive issues should be broken. Ilaiah opened up an entirely new debate that had the vigour and strength to counter the systemic Brahmanism. His methods of research were also novel in terms of going back to the roo

New trend? Riots 'expanded' to new rural areas post-2002 Gujarat carnage: Report

A VHP poster declaring a Gujarat village part of Hindu Rashtra  By Rajiv Shah  Buniyaad, a Gujarat-based civil society organization, engaged in monitoring of communal violence in the state, in a new report, “Peaceful Gujarat: An Illusion or Truth?” has said that a “new trend” has come about in communal violence in the state, where the parts of Gujarat which didn't see communal riots in 2002 are experiencing “regular bouts” of communal violence.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

More than 5,200 Gujarat schools to be closed down, merged, says govt document

RTE Forum, Gujarat, releasing fact-sheet on education By Our Representative A Gujarat government document has revealed that it is planning to close down 5,223 schools in the name of school merger. The document, dated July 20, 201 was released by the Right to Education (RTE) Forum, Gujarat. It shows that the worst-affected districts because of this merger are those which are populated by marginalized communities – especially tribals, Dalits and minorities, said RTE Forum’s Gujarat convener Mujahid Nafees.

Consumption pattern, not economic shock behind 'poor' child health indicators

By Neeraj Kumar, Arup Mitra* The findings of the latest round of National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) conducted in 2019-20 covering 22 States/UTs under Phase-I  present a somewhat disappointing picture of children’s health in India. Majority of the experts, based on prima facie evidence, just highlighted the deteriorating sign of child health in terms of increase in proportion of stunted and underweight children in most of the phase-I states/UTs over last two rounds of NFHS (2015-16 to 2019-20).