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

'Blatant violation' of law by Central government in making NREGA payments

By Our Representative  In September third week, NREGA workers across the country were mobilised for two day so raise their issues and submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister. Organised the NREGA Sangharsh Morcha (NSM), a collective of groups that work with NREGA labourers across the country, workers from 13 states -- Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Haryana, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Telangana, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal -- carried out Kaam Do Abhiyaan, staging demonstrations and rallies against what they called blatant violation of law by the Central government in making NREGA payments. While NREGA has had very positive impacts, it has lately become fruitless, exploiting labour, even though workers who have put in honest hard work have to wait for their wages endlessly, it was suggested.  In such a situation, there is a need to firm up NREGA implementation and end systematic corruption to ensure that workers get their basic NREGA entit

Fascism on prowl? Religious meet 'deeply pained' at silence of Church, bishops, priests

Counterview Desk  The ‘Forum of Religious for Justice and Peace’which held its 17th National Convention at the Montfort Social Institute, Hyderabad, Telangana from 22 to 24 September 2022 on the theme “Deepening our Identity as Religious: Responding to the Signs of the Times”, has expressed concern “at the deteriorating situation of our nation on every front”, especially stating, “Fascism seems to have come to stay” in India. At the same time, the convention, which took place with the participation of 60 persons from 16 states representing 20 religious congregations, in its unanimously-adopted statement added, “We have reached abysmal depths on every parameter: be it social, economic and political”, underlining, “The poor in India become poorer every day; the rich and powerful continue to profiteer at their expense and amass scandalous amounts of wealth.” Text: We, members (63 women and men Religious, from 16 states representing 20 Congregations) of the Forum of Religious for Justice

Muslim intellectuals met Bhagwat, extra-constitutional authority 'like Sanjay Gandhi'

By Shamsul Islam*  In a significant development a delegation of five Muslim intellectuals namely former chief election commissioner SY Quraishi; former senior bureaucrat Najeeb Jung; former AMU vice-chancellor and Lt Gen (retd) Zameer U Shah; politician-cum-journalist Shahid Siddiqui (presently with RLD); and businessman Saeed Shervani [Samajvadi Party] met RSS Supremo Mohan Bhagwat at RSS Delhi headquarters. The meeting was kept secret for reasons known to the participants and was held in August. According to the Muslim intellectuals the meeting held in “a very cordial” atmosphere continued for 75 minutes whereas time allotted was 30 minutes! In a post-meeting justification of the parleys Quraishi stated that their main concern was “the insecurity being increasingly felt by the Muslim community in the wake of recurring incidents of lynching of innocents, calls by Hindutva hotheads for genocide and the marginalisation of the community in almost every sphere”. This delegation consistin

Whither Govt of India strategy to reduce import dependence on crude oil, natural gas?

By NS Venkataraman*  India presently imports around 80% of it’s crude oil requirement and around 50% of its natural gas requirements . As the domestic production of crude oil and natural gas are virtually stagnant and the domestic demand is increasing at around 7% per annum, India’s steadily increasing dependence on import of the vital energy source is a matter of high energy security concern. This is particularly so, since the price of crude oil and natural gas are considerably fluctuating / increasing in the global market due to geo political factors, which are beyond the control of India. India has promised to achieve zero emission by the year 2070, which mean that the level of emission has to start declining at slow and steady rate from now onwards. It is now well recognized that global emission is caused largely due to use of coal as fuel and natural gas as fuel and feedstock. While burning of coal as fuel cause emission of global warming carbon dioxide gas and sulphur

Rajasthan cops 'halt' Gujarat Dalit women's rally: homage to untouchability victim boy

By Our Representative  In a surprise move, the Rajasthan police stopped a Dalit women's rally from Gujarat on the borders after it crossed Gujarat alleging that it would "disturb peace" in village Surana, Jalore district, where the gruesome incident of death of a Dalit boy took place on August 13 after he was brutally beaten up by his teacher on touching the drinking water pot. Sources said, while the Gujarat government had "no objection" in allowing the rally, which originated from the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), an empowerment-cut-technical institute for teens founded by human rights leader Martin Macwan, on September 24 morning, the Rajasthan police stopped it for two and a half hours before allowing it to proceed to Surana. The decision to take out a women's rally was taken at a DSK meeting on September 5 following a condolence meeting of the NGO Navsarjan Trust, also founded by Macwan, activists committed to work against caste-based discrimination, orga

Why Bose's India Gate statue suggests RSS, BJP need violence-loving ‘Hindu’ Netaji

By Prem Singh*  In a TV channel debate, a BJP spokesperson and anchor shared and served a lie that Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose's daughter in her letter to the Prime Minister has alleged that the Congress kept devaluing Netaji to further Gandhi's non-violence; because Netaji had taken the path of liberating the country through violence mode by forming the Azad Hind Fauj (INA). They also praised the Bombay Royal Naval Mutiny of 1946 to confirm that the country got its independence through a violent route. I stated that I have read the letter of Netaji's daughter, and there is no such allegation in it. But a lie told in the intoxication of power is bound to be blatant. Netaji's daughter Anita Bose Pfaff, even in the past, has already requested some earlier prime ministers of the country to bring back the mortal remains of her father from Japan to India. In none of the letters she has spoken about devaluation of her father’s role in the freedom movement on the basis of Gandh

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Is coal import dependence of more than 50% by 2047 of any relevance to India?

By Shankar Sharma*  I have read the article " Building Resilience in India’s Power Sector " by N Vedachalam, released by the Observer Research Foundation, with a lot of interest. I expected it to provide few useful recommendations to our authorities in charting out a sustainable pathway to green energy transition much before the climate catastrophe push our communities to the precipice. But I am sorry to say that the overall discussions or the message implied in the article disappointed me. I was expecting the article, coming from an engineer with past experience in the power sector, to discuss the much needed recommendations to put the power sector on a sustainable developmental pathway. But I could notice mostly technical jargon and a lot of statistical information, which may already be available in the public domain.   The article also seems to have simply accepted what some of the official agencies seem to have indicated as inevitable for the power sector in our country;

'True decolonisation move': Demand to name new Parliament building after Ambedkar

By Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd*  In recent weeks, there has been a demand for the new Parliament building being constructed on the revamped Central Vista in New Delhi to be named after the architect of the Constitution and anti-caste leader BR Ambedkar. On September 14, the Telangana Assembly passed a resolution urging the Centre to name the new Parliament building after Ambedkar. The Bharatiya Janata Party was absent during the debate about the resolution. The next day, the Telangana Rashtra Samithi-led government declared that the new secretariat in the centre of Hyderabad would be named after Ambedkar. Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao added that he would write to Prime Minister Narendra Modi requesting him to name the new Parliament building in Delhi “Ambedkar Parliament”. The demand is finding resonance among civil society groups too and has led to social media discussions as well as public mobilisation.  But two questions arise: Should a Parliament that makes laws for a nation over a

Government 'fails to take up' Indian migrants' unpaid wages issue with other countries

By Rafeek Ravuther, Chandan Kumar, Dharmendra Kumar*  The migrant workers were one of the most vulnerable sections during the pandemic. India experiences large-scale movement of migrants internally and internationally. After the outbreak of the pandemic, migrant workers continued to face injustice especially in getting wages in expedited manner. In the international context, India, the home of 9 million cross-border temporary labour migrants, carried out the largest repatriation exercise ‘Vande Bharat Mission’. Even though the Indian government addressed the immediate requirement of repatriation, it failed to understand and recognise their post-arrival grievances, like back wages, social protection etc. Recently many workers were deported from the middle- east region. Amidst the establishment of grievance mechanisms such as Consular Services Management System (MADAD) and helplines in Pravasi Bharatiya Sahayata Kendra (PBSK), the unresolved grievances remain high. The number of unresolv