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Sadhu dies after a 73-day fast to save Ganga

Jun 14, 2011 07:36 AM IST India India
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New Delhi: It's the season of hunger strikes and fasts unto death. Far from the spotlight though in the same hospital ICU as the much better known Baba Ramdev, Swami Nigamanand, who had been fasting for two and a half months over illegal mining - looking to save the Ganga - has passed away.

Sadhus cajoled him, politicians pleaded with him, ministers briefed him and finally on the ninth day of his fast unto death, Baba Ramdev relented with a sip of fruit juice.

In the same hospital, in the same ICU where Ramdev was admitted, another swami died an unsung death on Monday morning.

Swami Nigamanand, who was fasting for seventy-three days in Haridwar against rising pollution in the holy Ganges, breathed his last just hours after Ramdev broke his fast.

"He was on a hunger-strike for 68 days at his ashram. The reason for his hunger-strike was saving the Ganges and stop mining in the Ganga," said Pratap Shah, ADM, Rishikesh.

While Baba's followers made a beeline at his Patanjali Peeth, Swami Nigamanand of the Matra Sadan in Haridwar was fighting a lone battle against stone crushers and illegal mining on the river bank.

No one paid heed - the miners and crushers got a stay from the high court and mining continued unabated.

A month into the fast, Nigamanand's condition deteriorated. He slipped into a coma and ironically shared the same ICU with Ramdev for two days at the Himalayan Hospital before he lost his battle with life.

"The government is involved in this and is protecting the mafia. He was truly fighting for the Ganga without any media coverage and his hunger-strike proves his dedication to this cause," said Swami Kailashanand.

Ramdev is still recuperating in the Himalayan Hospital. When Nigamanand's body was taken from the hospital mortuary on Tuesday morning, there were no ministers, no politicians and hardly any sadhus to accompany him in his final journey.