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Conserving Ganga: Delhi-Haridwar march to start on March 9 in support of fasting saints

Swami Atmabodhanand
Counterview Desk
Several people's organizations are all set to begin a foot march from Delhi to Haridwar in support of sadhus fasting for conservation of Ganga, starting on March 9. The march will end on March 17. A statement ahead of the march, issued by well-known civil rights leaders, Sandeep Pandey, Faisal Khan, and others, says, "If the government had listened to saints then 40% of Indian population who live on banks of Ganga or one of its tributaries would have directly benefited."
Those supporting the long March include Matri Sadan, Lok Rajniti Manch, Khudai Khidmatgar, National Alliance of People's Movements, Nodi Bachao Jibon Bachao Andolan (West Bengal), Koshi Navnirman Manch (Bihar), Matu Jansangathan, Ganga Bachao Samiti, ToxicWatch Alliance, Sarva Dharma Samanvaya Parishad (Jharkhand), J.P. Health Research Foundation, Parents' Forum for Meaningful Learning, Sanatan Sanskriti Raksha Dal, Jal Jan Jodo, Paigam-e-Insaniyat, Prayatna, Humanity Welfare Society, Indian Industries Association, Ecologize, EGC Enterprises and Socialist Party (India).

Text of the statement:

Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand who earlier served as Professor at Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur and was the first member-secretary of Central Pollution Control Board began a fast unto death on June 22, 2018 demanding a law for conservation of Ganga. After 112 days of fasting he died at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh because of alleged cardiac arrest on October 11.
He wrote letters to the Prime Minister before and after beginning his fast. However, Narendra Modi did not dialogue with him. He sent a condolence message on twitter the day Swami Sanand died. We hold Bharatiya Janata Party government and Narendra Modi directly responsible for the murder of Swami Sanand.
In 2011 young ascetic Swami Nigmanand had died on 115th day of his fast in Haridwar against illegal mining in Ganga. It is alleged that he was murdered by a mining mafia who was close to the then BJP government in Uttarakhand. Swami Gokulanand who observed the first fast against illegal mining in 1998 with Swami Nigmanand was murdered in Nainital in 2003 by mining mafia.
Baba Nagnath died on 114th day of his fast in Varanasi in his effort to save Ganga. Sant Gopal Das who started his fast for uninterrupted flow and clean Ganga on 24 June, 2018 has been missing from a Dehradun hospital since 6th December, 2018.
Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand wanted "aviral" or uninterrupted and "nirmal" or clean Ganga. He was demanding that all proposed and under construction hydro power projects on Ganga be stopped immediately. He wanted complete ban on illegal sand and stone mining in Ganga basin as well as on deforstation.
Presently another young ascetic Brahmachari Atmabodhanand has completed more than hunderd days of fast with the same demands continuing Swami Sanand's struggle. He is fasting is the same room which was used by Swami Sanand at Matri Sadan. Swami Punyanand is next in line already on fruit diet ready to go on fast if anything happens to Brahmachari Atmabodhanand.
Swami Sanand had fasted five times during Manmohan Singh's government in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013. That government stopped the Lohari Nagpala hydro power project and declared 135 km of Bhagirathi river as eco-sensitive zone on his demand. During his 2013 fast Rajnath Singh as then BJP president had sent him a letter that all his demands related to Ganga will be met when Naremdra Modi government will come to power. However, sitting once on fast in this government proved fatal for him.
If the government had agreed to Swami Sanand's demands not only him but Ganga would also have been saved. Now Swami Sanand is not amongst us and one day Ganga will also disappear. Many rivers in the country including Sabarmati have dried. Ganga and other rivers will also meet the same fate.
If the government had listened to saints then 40% of Indian population who live on banks of Ganga or one of its tributaries would have directly benefited. But as the elections approach issue of Ram Mandir in Ayodhya, from which nobody knows who'll benefit, is being raked up, and in the case of Sabrimala temple, RSS and BJP as well as Congress are opposing the entry of women into the temple. On the other hand all big parties are promoting corporate loot.
Neglecting the common people's issues like implementation of Allahabad High Court Justice Sudhir Agrawal's judgement making it compulsory for all persons receiving salaries from government to send their children to government schools, Justice Sudhir Agrawal and Justice Ajeet Kumar's judgement that all people receiving salaries from government and their family members get themselves treated in government hospitals, bring an employment guarantee Act for the educated unemployed on the lines of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act or minimum support price for farmers, there is an attempt to expoit religious sentiments of people and give free hand to corporates.
We need to reject this politics.

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