Uttarakhand Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank on Wednesday night recommended a CBI probe into the death of Swami Nigamanand of Matri Sadan, Haridwar. He had been on fast since April 19 seeking a ban on quarrying activities in and around the Ganga in Kumbh area but slipped into a coma and died on June 13.

The State government ordered a CID probe earlier in the day.

Governor Margaret Alva asked the government to ensure an impartial probe into the death of Swami Nigamanand. “Let the queries and doubts raised by various organisations and media be addressed through an impartial probe,” she said.

Matri Sadan chief Swami Shivanand, family members of Swami Nigamanand and the Opposition Congress had also sought a CBI probe.

Surya Narain Jha, grandfather, and Rekha Devi, an aunt of Swami Nigamanand, arriving here from Darbhanga demanded justice, charging Sadan chief Swami Shivanand with deliberately causing the death of their kin by forcing him to undertake at least two fasts of over 65 days in the past few years. Ms. Rekha Devi asked why Swami Shivanand never allowed Nigamanand to talk to outsiders. The relatives have also urged District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police of Haridwar to hand over the body to them, it was told.

Congress stages protest

The Congress staged demonstrations all over the State, accusing the BJP government of having deliberately allowed a poor sanyasi seeking protection of the Ganga to die. “The BJP has double standards. The way it bailed out Ramdev — ‘the multimillionaire sanyasi businessman' — out of a rather awkward situation arising out of his fast against corruption and utterly neglecting Nigamanand who was dying in another room in the same hospital shows that the BJP is interested only in the very rich,” State Congress president Yashpal Arya said, adding that only a CBI probe would unravel the mystery.

Nigamanand who was on fast since February 19 at Matri Sadan in Haridwar was shifted to the district government hospital after his health deteriorated on April 27 by the administration. He was later shifted to the Himalayan Institute Hospital Trust hospital in Dehra Dun after he slipped into a coma on May 2.

Tourism Minister Madan Kaushik told journalists on Wednesday that the government had nothing to hide. Expressing grief over the death of Swami Nigamanand, Mr. Kaushik said, he was on fast not against the government.

“The government had banned all quarrying and stone-crushing operations on the Ganga in Kumbh area on December 10, 2010 as that region was an eco-sensitive zone.” A stone crusher owner however got a stay against the government orders. This stay was vacated after the High Court rejected the petition on May 26 and mining operations were immediately stopped, Mr. Kaushik said.