They may worship the same gods and cite the same scripture but all babas — and their fasts — are clearly not equal.
Lionised by politicians and the media, Baba Ramdev fasted for a few days before he ended his protest. At the first sign of weakness, BJP leader Sushma Swaraj rushed to pay him a visit. However, Swami Nigamanand, who went on a hunger strike in February to save the Ganga, paid the ultimate price for his beliefs, dying in hospital on June 13 with netas and journalists alike oblivious to his cause or sacrifice.
Nigamanand, 36, a founder-member of Matri Sadan, went on an indefinite fast on February 19 seeking a ban on quarrying in and around the Ganga in the Kumbh area. The district administration admitted him to the Haridwar District Hospital after his condition deteriorated on April 27.
District Magistrate Meenakshi Sundaram said the Uttarakhand government had issued two orders banning all mining activity in the kumbh region as sought by the fasting seer. These orders were challenged in the High Court at Nainital by a stone crusher owner. “The court rejected the petition on May 26 and we immediately ordered closure of all mining activities in the Kumbh region,” Mr. Sundaram said.
Meanwhile, Swami Shivanand, founder of Matri Sadan here, has sought a CBI probe into the death of Swami Nigamanand at the Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust (HIHT) hospital at Jolly Grant in Dehra Dun district.
Doctors at HIHT said the Swami was brought in a state of coma on May 2. He was immediately put on ventilator. He was, however, ‘brain dead' in a few days. Even then, they tried their very best to revive him until he was finally declared dead on June 13, the doctors said.
“Matri Sadan has given a complaint of alleged poisoning of Swami Nigamanand at the district hospital and the police are investigating,” the District Magistrate said.
“It was at the Haridwar district hospital that Swami Nigamanand was given a poisonous injection after which his condition deteriorated further and he was shifted to HIHT,” Shivanand said, adding only a CBI probe would reveal the nexus between corrupt officials, politicians and the mining mafia.
Nigamanand's body will be kept at Matri Sadan for public darshan for three days and then he will be given samadhi in on the ashram campus itself, it was told.
The post-mortem report has revealed that Nigamananda's death was caused by coma, septicaemia and degenerative brain disorder, R.K. Pant, Chief Medical Officer, Dehra Dun, said. The viscera was being sent to a laboratory in Agra for a forensic examination, he said.
Swami Shivanand, however, rejected the report and wanted a second post-mortem by doctors of the AIIMS.
To the accusation that the Swami had been poisoned in the Haridwar district hospital, the doctors said that although the truth would come out in police investigation and the post-mortem report, it was a fact that the cholinesterase enzyme level of the swami was found to be very low. This enzyme level can go down either in case of acute starvation due to fasting or by poison. The HIHT doctors said that no indication of poisoning came out in the MRI and other tests.
Senior Congressman and Leader of the Opposition Harak Singh Rawat said the death of the fasting yogi had brought out the double face of the State government as well as the BJP. “The entire BJP top brass raised a hue and cry over the Ramdev issue but remained silent on the issue of Swami Nigamanand fasting since February 19. Why? Just because Ramdev was their man while Swami Nigamanand and Matri Sadan were silently crusading for saving the holy Ganga without political connections.”
Mr Rawat wondered why Sushma Swaraj rushed to meet Ramdev but never even enquired about Nigamanand.
Ramdev expressed grief over the death of Nigamanand. A large number of holy men went to Matri Sadan to pay homage to the departed soul.