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HARIDWAR: With peaceful protests over the past decade failing to bear fruit, Matri Sadan ascetics have finally resorted to legal help to address the burning problem of illegal mining in the Ganga and a few other rivers in Haridwar.

In an unprecedented move, the monks have approached the high court for help as the state government remained unperturbed despite all their attempts to draw attention to the cause through non-violent measures like hunger strikes and fasts unto death.

“We have filed a public interest litigation in the high court on August 14, holding the district magistrate of Haridwar, a local MLA and the state mining director responsible for the alleged illegal mining in the rivers,” Brahmachari Dayanand, a Matri Sadan seer, said on Tuesday. The PIL also seeks to make the governor a party in the case, besides the state administration – a move that has been opposed by Uttarakhand advocate general U K Uniyal.

The matter will come up for hearing by a two-judge bench of Justices V K Bisht and U C Dhyani on August 26.

The PIL further alleges that Haridwar SSP Sweety Agrawal – known for her anti-mining stance – has come under fire for opposing the rampant illegal activity. Reportedly, a case has been filed against the senior police officer for being present in a photograph showing Congress leader Mamta Rakesh receiving her election certificate from the election officer after winning the Bhagwanpur assembly bypolls. The complainants alleged that the SSP’s presence in the picture made it seem as though she is the one awarding the certificate.

“Filing a case against SSP Agarwal on such flimsy grounds is nothing but an attempt at harassing her,” said Matri Sadan head Swami Shivanand, adding that the governor who took prompt cognizance of the photograph case neither replied to several letters the seers have written to him over the years against illegal mining nor commented on their peaceful protest.