The followers of environmental activist GD Agarwal, also known as Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, are holding a protest outside the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Rishikesh, where he died yesterday. They accuse the hospital of murdering the activist and demand a chance to pay their last respects. The activist had donated his body, and the hospital, which took possession of it today, refused to allow any public viewing.
Rishikesh AIIMS director Professor Ravi Kant said there is no question of any "antim darshan" (last glimpse).
"What family? The man is dead. We allowed the family to have a last glimpse yesterday. They can now go home and pay respects in whatever way they wish... this is a hospital, not a place to stage a function," Professor Ravi Kant said.
"They have donated the body, now it is ours," he categorically said, adding that given the number of his followers and supporters, they will "keep pouring in for the next three days".
GD Agarwal died yesterday after a four-month hunger strike to push the government to clean up the river Ganga.
He had been forcibly hospitalised by the local authorities on Wednesday after his health deteriorated. Doctors said the 87-year-old was suffering from hernia, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease and the fast had worsened his condition. During the fast, he was consuming only water mixed with honey and three days ago, gave up water as well after the talks on his demands failed. The Centre has said most of his demands have been met.
He died after suffering a massive heart attack.
Asked about the allegations of murder, Dr Ravi Kant said, "This is foolish talk. Anyone can indulge in it."
GD Agarwal's cousin Ashwani Agarwal said the hospital had allowed around 50 people - family and friends -- to view the body and there will be no public viewing ceremony.
"We have no complaints about any conspiracy," he said. The activist, he added, had suffered a cardiac arrest while asleep. Till he went to sleep, he was conscious and talking, Ashwani Agarwal said.