June 15, 2011

Swami Nigamananda :Fast Unto Death

Even as Baba Ramdev’s fast that stretched to nine days, undertaken to press his demand for bringing back black money stashed away in foreign banks, and to step up war against corruption, got national attention, the death of an ascetic who valiantly fought against the stone quarries and pollution of River Ganga, by observing a fast for 114 days, went unnoticed. This unsung hero is Swami Nigamanananda. Ironically, he died at Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences here, where Baba Ramdev was being treated. For two days, he had shared the intensive care unit of the hospital with Baba Ramdev, and died within hours after Baba was discharged.
The people are angry that Uttarakhand government, which convened repeated press conferences to pledge its support for Baba Ramdev’s efforts, failed to even express regret at the sad demise of Swami Nigamananda. The Swami had slipped to coma about a month before his death. He began his fast on February 19, slipped to coma on May 2, and did not recover since then. Haridwar district magistrate, R Meenakshisundaram, has said that post mortem was ordered on the mortal remains of the ascetic, as there are allegations that his fellow Sanyasis in the Ashram had fed him poison.  Swami Shivananda, founder chief of Matru Sadan had alleged, in a complaint to Kotwali police station on May 11 that poison was given to the Swami through a nurse on April 30. He said that this was responsible for the comatose condition of the Swami since May 2, and has blamed chief medical officer of the hospital, Dr P K Bhatnagar, and Jnanesh Kumar, owner of Himalayan Stone Crusher, for the episode. He said that a chemical compound named organophosphate was used by the nurse.
Swami Nigamananda from Matru Sadan Ashram in Haridwar, had been on fast since the last nearly four months, demanding shifting of stone crushers being operated at the spot where Kumbhamela is held, alleging that the powdered stone has been polluting River Ganga, considered to be holy by Hindus. The government neglected to look into his demands, and he breathed his last at the hospital on Monday June 13. Nigamananda (36) had fought a lone battle against the state government’s apathy relating to environmental damage inflicted by the stone crushing units, and had been trying to attract the attention of the national media towards the natural calamities suffered by the people of the state.
The death of the Sadhu away from media glare because of the utter neglect of the state government has given rise to a number of questions about the sincerity of the government and the media towards causes backed by social concern. While eminent leaders from various fields including political, rushed to ask Ramdev to end his fast, no one batted an eyelid as Nigamananda continued to lie on his deathbed for causes that were dear to his heart, and in the interests of his homeland.
Congress leaders from Uttarakhand including Tehri MLA, Kishore Upadhyaya, have blamed the state government for the death of Swami Nigamananda. The leaders have been blaming the Chief Minister, who had visited Baba Ramdev regularly to press for early ending of his fast, of not caring to meet Swami Nigamananda. Swami Nigamananda’s noble motives got dashed because of stays obtained by owners of stone crushers from the High Court, and lack of support from the local people who did not rally behind him. In the coming days, Congress is likely to use this incident as a weapon to take on BJP. All India Congress Committee general secretary, Janardan Dwivedi, said that the BJP, which had steadfastly supported Baba Ramdev, could have saved Swami Nigamananda, if it had paid heed to his plea for saving River Ganga from pollution. 

News Source : daijiworld.com