Haridwar/Dehradun: The fasting seer, Swami Nigamanand, who gave his life after a four-month fast unto death for the cause of river Ganga was laid to rest by giving a ‘bhu samadhi’ (religious burial) at his ashram premises in Haridwar on Thursday. Several leaders, both from the ruling BJP and opposition Congress, besides sadhus were present to attend the burial.

The family members of Nigamanand, who wanted to take the body to their native place in Darbhanga district of Bihar, accepted the decision of burying him at the ashram taken by the administration and returned home after paying the last respects.

Earlier, his family members were not in favour of the burial and sought custody of the body for the last rites as per their tradition. They also threatened to undertake an indefinite hunger strike, but were turned down by the ashram authorities, prompting the district administration to intervene.

Nigamanand's family members alleged that the seer had told them that there was pressure on him from his guru to undertake a fast and continue it even when he was not in the condition to do so.

At last, Haridwar District Magistrate R Meenakshisundaram decided in favour of ashram giving it the right to bury the seer after taking legal opinion and holding discussion with the members of the ashram as well as his family members.

Uttarakhand government for CBI probe

Facing severe criticism from the Opposition over the allegations in Swami’s death, Nishank government played safe by forwarding the request of a CBI probe in the case to the Centre.

Observers see Nishank government’s move as a step to shift the blame and save its image.

Notably, the death of Nigamanand on June 13 sparked intense criticism for the BJP government with the opposition Congress on Thursday demanding resignation of Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, alleging that the seer could not be saved due to negligence of the state government.

The Congress alleged that proper medical care was not provided to Nigamanand as the state government is under pressure from the quarrying mafia.

Fresh viscera test done

Amid allegations that Swami Nigamanand was poisoned, authorities on Thursday ordered a second viscera test of the seer who died after a four-month fast against quarrying in Ganga bed, even as Congress stepped up attack on the Chief Minister demanding his resignation.

Haridwar District Magistrate Meenakshi Sundaram has decided that another sample of viscera of Nigamanand be taken after the founder head of Matri Sadan ashram and his guru, Shivanand, gave a written request in this regard, said Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Kewal Khurana, a day after the Uttarakhand Government recommended a CBI probe into the circumstances of his death.

A panel of doctors will take the sample at Matri Sadan Ashram, where the body of the 36-year-old seer has been kept.

The DM also made it clear it is not a second post mortem and that only viscera samples will suffice, officials said.

Uttarakhand Minister Madan Kaushik had on Wednesday said the government is ready for a fresh viscera test if the ashram and his family members are not satisfied.

Though the postmortem report of Nigamanand had stated coma, septicaemia and degenerative brain disorder as the cause of death, Shivanand had alleged that Nigamanand died of poisoning after he was administered a lethal injection at the behest of quarrying mafia.

The death of Nigamanand on June 13 has sparked intense criticism of the BJP government with opposition Congress on Thursday demanding resignation of Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank alleging that the seer could not be saved due to negligence of the state government.

"The death of Nigamanand due to lack of proper medical care clearly shows that the BJP government has completely failed to discharge its duty," spokesman of Uttarakhand Congress Legislature Party Kishore Upadhyay said.

"Chief Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank should immediately resign from the post," he said.

Meanwhile, a tussle broke out between the ashram and seer's family members over taking possession of the seer's body. The family threatened to go on an indefinite fast if the body is not handed over to them for the last rites.

Nigamanand's father Subhash Chandra Jha and other family members, who reached the ashram at Haridwar, said they wanted to perform his last rites at his native place in Darbhanga district of Bihar, Superintendent of Police (City) K L Shah said.

However, their request has been turned down by the sadhus of the ashram who said Swami was a sadhu and so he will be given 'Bhu Samadhi' in the ashram itself, Shah said.

The administration is taking legal opinion on the issue following which a decision in this regard would be taken, Shah said.

Meanwhile, Nigamanand's family has threatened to sit on an indefinite fast outside the ashram if the body was not handed over to him.

Nigamanand's elder brother Satyam Kumar Ashish alleged that the seer had told him there was pressure on him from his guru to undertake a fast and continue it even when he was not in the condition to do so.

"Nobody is helping us.... we were allowed to see the body for not more that 10 minutes. We are helpless. We will go on a hunger strike and die, that's all," he said

The Congress alleged that proper medical care was not provided to Nigamanand as the state government is under pressure from quarrying mafia.

Upadhyaya claimed that he and Union Minister of State for Agriculture Harish Rawat wrote a letter to Chief Minister that Nigamanand should be shifted to AIIMS in New Delhi but no attention was paid to their concerns.

(JPN/Bureau/Agencies)