On 13th February 2012, Manushi volunteers began a daily candle light vigil outside the residence of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, to remind the Prime Minister of his broken promises with regard to stopping the destruction of river Ganga and to express solidarity with the fast unto death of Swami Gyan Swaup Anand to press upon the Government the urgent need for the protection of most sacred river of India.
|Manushi volunteers holding candle light vigil near PM's residence
We deliberately kept the numbers limited so that we would not defy the restrictions imposed by the police on gathering of crowds in this VVIP area. Even so the security men posted outside PM's residence were extremely nervous about our presence right outside the gate. Therefore, we agreed to their request and moved to the roundabout near Samrat Hotel - just a few yards ahead of the PM's residence at 7 Race Course Road.
Since then, we have not been obstructed from holding the vigil. Neither have they objected to the numbers present. on both days, 13 of us stood for the vigil. We are going to have more volunteers on the third day. We appeal to all those who wish to see the pristine purity of our sacred rivers restored, to join us in solidarity every evening from 6 pm to 7 pm.
The Government's callousness is evident from the fact that it has not made any attempt to contact Swami Gyan Swarup Anand or the Shankracharya of Jyotirmath, who gave a notice to the Prime Minister a month before the start of their tapasya.
This tapasya began on January 14, 2012 the auspicious day of Makar Sankranti with Swami Gyan Swarup Anand taking a vow along with Shankracharya designate Swami Avimukteshwaranand and 4 other sanyasis at Ganga Sagar to carry this fight to the finish. They announced the following schedule for their Ganga tapasya:
1) From January 14 to the February 8, Swami Gyan Swarup Anand lived only on a limited quantity of fruits and Gangajal. This phase of the fast was observed on the banks of Ganga at Prayag.
2) For the second phase starting February 9, he moved to Matri Sadan situated on the banks of Ganga in Haridwar. For this entire month, he will partake only water, no food whatsoever.
3) If the government remains adamant in the third phase he will give up water as well.
If during this period Swami Gyan Swarup dies, then the 5 Sanyasis who took the vow with him will start their tapasya one after another by forsaking both food and water.
|Swami Gyan Swarup Anand, Swami Avimukteshwaranand and a group of Ganga Abhiyan volunteers in
front of Parliament House where they stood for 11 hours waiting to speak to Lok Sabha Speaker
The arrogance of the current regime is evident from the fact that, on February 8 on their way from Prayag to Haridwar for the second phase of the fast, Swami Gyan Swarup Anand and Swami Avimukteshwaranand went to submit a Memorandum to Lok Sabha Speaker. They had given her ample notice of their visit. The Lok Sabha Speaker Mrs Meira Kumar not only refused to meet them personally, she also did not even condescend to send an officer to receive the Memorandum. Disappointed, the two Swamis pasted a handwritten protest note on the police barricade with the request that it be sent to Meira Kumar.
The handwritten message for Lok Sabha Speaker
Meira Kumar pasted by Swami Avimukteshwaranand
on the police barrier at Gate No. 8 of Parliament House
At this, police officer yelled at them and tried tearing the note down right in front of them. Shocked at such rudeness the two Sanyasis stood on dharna for 11 long hours almost till midnight. They made a simple request: Let the Speaker receive their Memorandum and note of protest. Meira Kumar refused to budge.
I phoned and sent SMS messages to several leading politicians of both the Congress and the BJP. Not a single one turned up even though this incident involved one of the highest religious figures and institutions. Nor did TV channels or news reporters consider the story worth a mention - simply because the two Swamis had not collected a big crowd. About 20 of us had spontaneously joined the two Swamis when we got to know through common friends that such an incident had happened.
The two Swamis had deliberately avoided informing their followers saying: "This is part of our tapasya not a show of strength. Tapasya is always individual, not a mass activity."
Late in the night, when Shankaracharya Swaroopanand got to know of this incident through his old devotee and senior congress leader Digvijay Singh - he ordered the two Swamis not to waste their time at the door of the government. He told them it was far more important for them to resume the next phase of their tapasya at Haridwar as per schedule.
However, whoever was present to see 80 year old Swami Gyan Swarup and Shankracharya designate stand for 11 long hours without a drop of water or food braving one of the chilliest winter days, came back shell-shocked at the arrogance of Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar. It was a good reality check for those of us who harboured the illusion that women make more responsive politicians than men.
Posted on February 14, 2012