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Haryana: Gaushalas are like jails, says fasting sadhu

Sant Gopal Das is on a hunger strike to free pasture land in villages from encroachments.

india Updated: Jul 19, 2017 11:54 IST
Hardik Anand
Ask him more about his protest, and he takes out his mobile phone to play a video of cows grazing in the picturesque pastures of Switzerland.
Ask him more about his protest, and he takes out his mobile phone to play a video of cows grazing in the picturesque pastures of Switzerland. (HT Photo)

Eight weeks into his fast, Azaad Malik, better known as Sant Gopal Das, knows the importance of conserving energy as he scribbles his thoughts on a notepad.

Das also explains in writing his reason for going on a hunger strike to free gauchar bhoomi (pasture land) in villages from encroachments, and passes the piece of paper to visitors at the daycare ward of Pandit Bhagwat Dayal Sharma Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences (PGIMS), Rohtak. He was shifted to the hospital from his dharna spot in Mansarover Park after his health deteriorated.

Few days back, when this reporter met him at the park, the 38-year-old Sant-cum-activist appeared to be in the pink of health despite having been on a fast for over seven weeks. “I lost 11.5 kilos, but my will for the cause has increased 1,000 times,” he said.

Ask him more about his protest, and he takes out his mobile phone to play a video of cows grazing in the picturesque pastures of Switzerland. “Look at them. How free they are. In India, we are okay with our confining our cows to gaushalas, which are nothing but jails. Don’t they deserve freedom?” he asks.

Das was born as Azaad Malik in Raja Kheri village of Panipat. According to his father, he did not finish his graduation before leaving home to pursue his movement. Das, however, claims he has done a Ph.D in “earth balance environment and animal behavior” from an un-recognised university.

“I studied the effect of emotions of living beings on their surroundings. Cows living in bad conditions in small gaushalas cannot be expected to produce healthy milk. Their milk will contain an element of anger,” he declares. His hunger strike has made the opposition parties, including the Congress, INLD and AAP, rally behind him. Even the ruling BJP supports his demands to some extent.

However, Das says he will not give up until all his demands are met. It is not the first time that Das has taken up this cause. He has sat on hunger strikes in Gujarat, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh and many other states.