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How Karat-Ramdev War began

SMA KAZMI/Express News Service

Posted: Jan 07, 2006 at 1331 hrs IST

It was 1995 that Swami Ramdev, along with Swami Karamvir and Acharya Balkrishan, started Divya Yoga Trust at Kankhal near Haridwar. His breathing exercises to cure ailments became popular, soon he was on TV channels and his Divya Yog Pharmacy started sending out truckfuls of medicines to its centres across north India.

The fight between Ramdev and Karat began in April last year when his trust sacked 115 volunteers working in Divya Yog Pharmacy manufacturing in Haridwar. The volunteers went on indefinite strike demanding better wages when they were sacked. The local CPM trade union, Centre of Indian Trade Union (CITU), pitched in.

A tripartite agreement between workers, Divya Yog Pharmacy and the district administration was signed on May 21 but workers alleged that they were not allowed to work as per the agreement. Brinda Karat visited Haridwar in May 2005 to show solidarity with them. ‘‘Divya Yog Pharmacy did not honour the agreement,’’ said Vijay Rawat, Uttaranchal CPM secretary.

During her first visit the sacked workers alleged that human skulls and animal parts were being used by the pharmacy. Karat demanded a probe into the allegations. The Divya Yog Mandir Trust which owns the pharmacy accused her of playing into MNCs hand to malign yoga and Ayurveda.

Again in June, Karat—during her next visit to Haridwar and Dehra Dun—held demonstrations in support of the sacked workers. She also met Uttaranchal health Secretary S.K. Dass and top bureaucrats on September 23. Karat demanded that the pharmacy be brought under Factories Act since it was manufacturing medicines in bulk for sale so that daily-wage workers—who were paid Rs 1,200 per month for working for 12 hours daily—be paid adequately.

Acharya Balkrishan, secretary of the Divya Yog Mandir Trust, said: ‘‘There was absolutely no truth in the charges that human skulls or organs of wild animals were being used in medicines. Only sea-shells and herbs are used in the medicines which are registered with the Government.’’

Meanwhile, CITU continued with its struggle. Haridwar District Magistrate issued show-cause notices to the Divya Yog Pharmacy under labour laws. However, after the pharmacy replied to the show-cause notice, there has been no decision from the state government. ‘‘I sent the reply of the pharmacy to the state government to seek directions on the issue,’’ said R.K. Sudhanshu, District Magistrate, Haridwar.

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