Politician Drinks Water from Polluted ‘Holy River’ to Prove It Is Clean, Ends Up in Hospital

An Indian politician who drank a glass of water straight out of a polluted ‘holy river’ to show locals that it was safe to drink was reportedly airlifted to a hospital a couple of days later.

On Sunday, July 17, while visiting Sultanpurlodhi, Bhagwant Mann, Chief Minister of Punjab, pulled off a rather daring publicity stunt, one that reportedly cost him an emergency hospital visit. Accompanied by reporters, local officials and Sikh elders, Mann at one point bent down, scooped water right out of the Kali Bein rivulet and downed it to show everyone that it was safe to drink. That got cheers and applause from those around the politician, but they probably had no idea how dirty and polluted the river actually was.

“Bhagwant Mann also drank water from the Bein and said that he was blessed to have got this opportunity,” the caption of a tweet put out by Mann’s political party read.

Later that day, Deputy Commissioner Ashok Kaura told reporters that sewage water from many towns and villages on the banks of Kali Bein flows into it, adding that he wasn’t present to advise Bhagwant Mann against drinking it.

By Tuesday, news outlets across India started reporting that Mann had to be airlifted to a Delhi hospital after he started experiencing severe stomach pain.

“Punjab Chief Minister openly drinks a glass of polluted water from a ‘holy river’ to prove that water is clean. Now admitted to hospital,” Ashok Swain, Professor of Peace and Conflict Research at Uppsala University, posted on Twitter last week.

Officials in Mann’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) denied that his admission to the hospital had anything to do with his stupid stunt, claiming that he had only undergone a routine checkup. However, several news outlets citing hospital sources claimed that he was still being treated for a stomach infection on Thursday.


Kali Bein is a holy river to the Sikh, because it is believed that the founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak, bathed in it and achieved enlightenment. While the river is much cleaner than it used to be prior to the year 2000, when environmentalist Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal led a campaign to see it cleaned up, drinking from it – or any other river, for that matter – is not advisable.

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