Ganga activist GD Agarwal died yesterday after a 111 day fast
Activist GD Agarwal, who was on an indefinite fast since June 22 to urge the government to clean river Ganga, died at the AIIMS hospital in Rishikesh yesterday. He was 87. The noted environmentalist had a heart attack. Post-mortem has been conducted and as the environmentalist had pledged his organs, his body has been donated to AIIMS.
GD Agarwal, also known as Swami Gyan Swaroop Sanand, was shifted by the police from Haridwar to AIIMS in Rishikesh yesterday after being on fast for 109 days. An AIIMS doctor said he suffered from hernia, high blood pressure and coronary artery disease and the fast worsened his condition.
Here are the highlights of GD Agarwal's funeral:
Family and Ashram members, around 50, were allowed to see the body before it was closed from public viewing.
Ashwani Agarwal, his cousin, said they have no complaints and doubt no conspiracy behind his death. Brahmachari Dayanand, a member of Matri Sadan Ashram in Haridwar where GD Agarwal was fasting, claimed he was murdered by authorities and demanded an SIT probe into his death. He also alleged Nitin Gadkari is lying about meeting most demands.
There are 20 people from the Haridwar Ashram and the water conservation movement sitting on a dharna at AIIMS demanding an "antim darshan."
Born into a farmers' family in Muzaffarnagar district in Uttar Pradesh in 1932, GD Agarwal graduated from University of Roorkee (present-day IIT Roorkee). He started his career as a design engineer in the Uttar Pradesh state Irrigation Department and went on obtain a doctorate in environmental engineering from the University of California at Berkeley.
He was a faculty member of IIT-Kanpur, a member of the Central Pollution Control Board, and an honorary professor of environmental sciences at the Mahatma Gandhi Chitrakoot Gramodaya Vishwavidyalaya, in Chitrakoot, Madhya Pradesh.
AIIMS Rishikesh Director said postmortem has been completed and GD Agarwal's body has been donated. There will be no funeral and there will be no event to pay homage to him. No one will be allowed to go near the body and the body will stay with AIIMS.
The AIIMS director Professor Ravikant said, "The man is dead. What is family now? Family wanted to see body, we did it yesterday. If you want to pay homage, garland a photo at home. Hospital is not a place for a function (event). This way, people will keep coming for 2 days."
On being accused of murder by the ashram members, he said, "These stupid comments anyone can make, you can also make. But I won't make."
He also said now that the body is donated its theirs (AIIMS) and now no other rituals or paying respects will be allowed.
In 2012, GD Agarwal undertook a fast which had forced the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance government to convene a meeting National Ganga River Basin Authority (NGRBA) to look into his various demands.
Rahul Gandhi tweeted his condolences on GD Agarwal's death on Twitter. He said the professor gave up his life for saving the Ganga. "Saving the Ganga is like saving the country. We will never forget him and will take his fight forward," Mr Gandhi said on Twitter.
The body would not be moved to the ground outside AIIMS. A set up may be created in AIIMS itself for people to pay last respects.
GD Agarwal's body will be donated as he pledged to donate his organs.
GD Agarwal had sent out a press release saying he had been forcibly admitted in AIIMS Rishikesh:
Aam Aadmi Party's social media strategist tweeted pictures of GD Agarwal being carried off by the Uttarakhand police yesterday and condemned the act:
GD Agarwal was once a professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur. He had also served as a Member-Secretary of the Central Pollution Control Board or CPCB. The activist had previously too held fasts for the protection of rivers. His fast in 2009 had led to the construction of a dam on river Bhagirathi being stopped.
GD Agarwal had sent several letters to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who had in 2014 pledged on the banks of the Ganga in Varanasi that immediate steps would be taken to ensure cleaning of the holy river. However, the government paid no heed to his demands, said 'IITians for Holy Ganga', a forum formed to preserve the heritage and ecology of the river.
Srinivas BV, National Vice-President of the Indian Youth Congress, tweeted his condolences of GD Agarwal's death. Calling GD Agarwal the "true son of Maa Ganga" he said the environmentalist died "fighting to save her." He also tweeted pictures of the candlelight march organised to condole the environmentalist's death. Here are a few:
DCW chairperson Swati Maliwal attacked PM Modi for not taking any steps to clean the Ganga after letters for GD Agarwal. "His repeated appeals to PM Modi fell on deaf ears. During his lifetime, PM refused to even acknowledge his letters but at his death, PM was quick to tweet his condolences. Shameful and revolting!" she tweeted.
The Indian Youth Congress said it had also organised a candlelight march over his death.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday condoled the death of G D Agarwal
, saying he sacrificed his life for the Ganga river and vowing to take his fight forward.
"He sacrificed his life for saving the Ganga. Saving the river is equivalent to saving the nation. We will never forget him and we will take his fight forward," Mr Gandhi said in Facebook post.
PM Modi has tweeted his condolences on the activist's death, says "his passion towards learning, education, saving the environment, particularly Ganga cleaning will always be remembered".
A day before the activist died, Union Water Resources and Ganga River Rejuvenation Minister Nitin Gadkari had said almost all his demands had been met and he had written a letter to GD Agarwal to give up his fast.
On Tuesday, the centre had come out with a gazette notification stating the minimum environmental flow that is to be maintained at various locations on the Ganga. Mr Gadkari had said the draft legislation on protecting the Ganga had also been sent to the Cabinet for approval.
Reports suggest GD Agarwal was only consuming water mixed with honey during his fast. Three days ago, he had reportedly also given up water after talks on his demands failed.
The Ganga activist sat on a fast demanding steps that would protect the river and maintain its uninterrupted flow between Gangotri and Uttarkashi in Uttarakhand.