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Old 09-12-2018, 12:02 AM   #981
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Ganges: The holy men fasting to death keep a river alive

Over the past two decades, holy men in India have gone on dozens of fasts demanding governments honour their promise to revive the polluted Ganges, a river revered by Hindus. The recent death of one of the most prominent hunger strikers made headlines. Soutik Biswas went to find out more.

In a quiet ashram (retreat) near the pilgrim town of Haridwar, a young seer says he would die to save the Ganges.

Atmabodhanand is on the 40th day of a fast begun after the ashram's most prominent resident starved himself to death two months ago.

The 26-year-old computer science dropout from Kerala state spends his days lying under a blanket on a bed beneath a mango tree. When night falls and the air gets chillier, he moves inside the spartan quarters and sleeps.

"I am ready to die," he told me. "Our ashram has a history of sacrifice."
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