Swami Nigamanand, 36, died in Dehradun on June 13 after fasting for 115 days to protest against quarrying in the river Ganga. His death has not brought sobriety but controversy and politics. Nigamanand’s family on Thursday said they will start an indefinite fast if the Matri Sadan Ashram in Haridwar doesn’t give his body to them for last rites in Darbhanga district of Bihar, the seer’s home. Nigamanand’s father, Subhash Chandra Jha, and other relatives threatened to stage a dharna outside the ashram, said K L Shah, superintendent of police (city). Sadhus of the ashram refused their request, saying Nigamanand was a seer and he will be given ‘bhu samadhi’ (ceremonial burial) in the ashram. The government is taking legal opinion on the issue, Shah said.
The Congress, which is the main opposition party in Uttarakhand, on Thursday demanded that chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank resign because his government had “failed” to give proper medical care to Nigamanand. “The death of Nigamanand due to lack of proper medical care clearly shows that the BJP government has completely failed to discharge its duty,” said Kishore Upadhyay, spokesperson of the Uttarakhand Congress Legislature Party.
Authorities announced they would conduct a fresh viscera test to establish what led to Nigamanand’s death after allegations that he was poisoned. A sample of Nigamanand’s viscera will be taken on the request of Shivanand, the seer’s guru (teacher) and founder head of Matri Sadan ashram, said Kewal Khurana, senior superintendent of police. A panel of doctors will take the sample at the ashram. Nigamanand’s autopsy report said he died of coma, septicaemia and degenerative brain disorder, but Shivanand has alleged that he was poisoned at the behest of the quarrying mafia.