Sadhvi Padmavati, age 23, who has been fasting for over 45 days as part of a campaign to protect the Ganga river from environmental destruction, was arrested in the middle of the night and mentally and verbally abused by the police on 30th January 2020. She was eventually released when the news reached the media and reporters started to arrive at the police station to investigate.
Now another sadhu, Brahmachari Atmabodhanand, has also joined the fast. The two are part of a long-running campaign by an ashram in Haridwar, Matri Sadan, to save the Ganga from the immense environmental damage being done to its water quality, riverbed and catchment area by large-scale and indiscriminate industrial and mining activity, as well as the construction of big dams.
They have the following four demands:
(i) shut down four dams on the Ganga,
(ii) stop sewage flowing into the river
(iii) make sure there are no polluting factories close to the river, and
(iv) make a new law to protect the Ganga.
Four sadhus have already died in the course of their fasts for the fulfilment of these demands.
The Socialist Party (India) condemns the government’s insensitivity and insolence towards these environmental activists, who are struggling to save a river which has huge cultural, religious, economic and social significance for crores of people in the country. This attitude of both the central and the Uttrakhand government, both of which are run by the BJP, a self-proclaimed protector of Hindu culture and tradition, exposes their hypocrisy when it comes to matters of genuine religious and cultural significance.
The SP(I) demands that the government meet the conditions put forward by the sadhus and sadhvis of Matri Sadan, and enter into dialogue with them to devise a comprehensive plan to protect the Ganga from environmental degradation.