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Hell in holy land

Tehelka Magazine, Vol 8, Issue 26, Dated 02 July 2011

In the battle between the sadhus and the mining mafia over the Ganga, the BJP government in Uttarakhand has repeatedly and blatantly taken sides with the latter. Ashish Khetan & Manoj Rawat uncover the murky story that led to Swami Nigamananda’s death

BABA RAMDEV knew how to catch attention. Infamously, he also knew how to run. Swami Nigamananda didn’t know how to do either. While Ramdev was hogging national attention with emotive issues like declaring all black money stashed abroad as “national wealth” and threatening to hang the corrupt, far away from media glare, Nigamananda, 38, had been fasting for a mind-boggling 68 days for something much more concrete — and of even greater national implication. Nigamananda was fighting to save the Ganga.

Finally, Nigamananda died on 13 June, in the same hospital, in the same ward where Ramdev was being treated in the ICU, after just seven days of fasting. Briefly, the glaring ironies around the stories of the two men created a furore. But soon — in death as in life — the real and urgent cause Nigamananda had been fighting for was quickly forgotten. [more]