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Uttarakhand priests seek union minister’s apology for ‘baseless’ comment on Ganga pollution

Ganga Sabha, an organisation of priests that manages affairs of sanctum sanctorum of Braham Kund at Har-Ki-Pauri, has demanded an apology from Union minister Satya Pal Singh for his recent remark in which he said that immersion of dead people’s ashes into the Ganga by Hindus adds to the river pollution

dehradun Updated: Dec 24, 2017 19:24 IST
Sandeep Rawat
Sandeep Rawat
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand News,Braham Kund,Har-Ki-Pauri
Union minister Satya Pal Singh had said immersion of dead people’s ashes into the Ganga by Hindus adds to the river pollution.(HT File)

Ganga Sabha, an organisation of priests that manages affairs of sanctum sanctorum of Braham Kund at Har-Ki-Pauri, has demanded an apology from Union minister Satya Pal Singh for his recent remark in which he said that immersion of dead people’s ashes into the Ganga by Hindus adds to the river pollution.

Terming his remark “an insult to religious faith and sentiments” of the Hindu community, the priests’ organisation also demanded resignation of Singh, who is the Union minister of state for water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation.

Hindus immerse the ashes at Har-Ki-Pauri in Haridwar for ages.

Talking to HT, Ganga Sabha president Purushottam Sharma Gandhivadi said that immersion of ashes in the Ganga is mentioned in vedic scriptures and manuscripts and is part of the Hindu rituals. “The minister, who is also heading Ganga rejuvenation ministry, should have cross-checked facts and rituals associated with immersion of ashes. He has hurt religious sentiments of millions of Hindus and we condemn his statement,” Sharma said.

Referring to Shrimad Bhagwad Geeta, Sharma said that since arrival of the deity Ganga on the earth, following penance by King Bhagirath during Satyuga, immersion of ashes in the river has been going on. In fact, Bhagirath brought the Ganga on the earth for the salvation of his ancestors, he added.

Citing bahi (document) of teerth purohits and pandas, who write information about people immersing ashes at Har-Ki-Pauri in the document, Ganga Sabha general secretary Ram Kumar Mishra, said, “We have documented record of past four centuries on immersion of ashes.”

“Even BJP leaders, cabinet ministers and their family members’ ashes immersion ritual at Har-Ki-Pauri is documented. Such baseless statement (by Singh) doesn’t augur well for a cabinet minister. We demand apology and resignation from Satya Pal,” Mishra added.

A written communication has been sent to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in this regard by Teerth Purohit Mahasabha, apprising him about the hurt sentiments of Sanatan Dharma followers and seeking removal of Singh from the cabinet.

Meanwhile, Haridwar-based teerth purohit Sagar Vashisth, a resident of Upper Road Colony, has filed a case in the court of chief judicial magistrate against Singh for hurting religious sentiments of Hindus. The court will hear the case on January 5, 2018.

Commenting on the row, Akhil Bharatiya Akhada Parishad president Narendra Giri said, “It seems the minister has no knowledge of Indian traditions, customs and sanskars, right from birth till death. Instead of giving advice on immersion of ashes, Pal should focus on stopping sewage, garbage, industrial effluents, plastic and filth in Ganga river.”

Mahamandaleshwar Swami Harichetnanand Maharaj of Hari Har Ashram said that since inception of the Ganga, immersion of ashes is being performed on its banks and that is why the river is called salvation provider. “Immersion of ashes is directly linked with salvation to deceased having no impact on purity of Ganga,” said the seer.

An assistant professor and researcher on the Ganga pollution, Gagan Matta of Gurukul Kangri University, said that immersion of ashes doesn’t “in any way” pollute the Ganga water, as calcium and bone content mingle into the flowing water. “This mixture further enhances the bio-chemical quotient of the Ganga river,” he added.

Meanwhile, immersion of ashes continued at Har-Ki-Pauri and Sati Ghat, Kankhal, as usual with teerth purohits performing the rituals.

First Published: Dec 24, 2017 19:24 IST