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About the Author

Hemant Jain
Writer, designer (Mumbai, India)

I am a writer and illustrator. I like to tell stories about the world I live in and keep a tab on India's environmental crimes here: http://greatindiansale.blogspot.com/

Post

The neverending tragedy of Bhopal.

Published 22nd May 2010 - 1 comments - 7732 views -

The surviving victims of the Union Carbide Gas Tragedy in Bhopal protested recently in Delhi. They were shunned and not allowed to protest. The reason? Delhi is hosting the Commonwealth Games and the government felt that protestors would look ugly.

Here's Sathyu Sarangi, the man who has fought for the victims' voices to be heard:

FOR HUNDREDS of thousands of Bhopal residents robbed of their health and livelihood, denied their right to justice and the most basic means of survival, it has been 25 years of misery and suffering. As if this were not enough, Bhopal activists were recently told they could protest for a few hours only at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar. “We don’t care where you stay the night, but we will chase you away from Jantar Mantar after four,” we were curtly informed by a policeman, his feet propped up on a table, when we sought permission for a protest starting April 15 at what has been the Capital’s unofficial dissent centre. It’s official now: pitching tents and overnight stays at Jantar Mantar have been banned because of the upcoming Commonwealth Games.

Complete article here: http://www.tehelka.com/story_main44.asp?filename=Op240410opinion.asp

I have been working on a project with Mr. Sarangi:

We want as many people in India as possible to send postcards to the Prime Minister of India reminding him that he and others have been blind to the sufferings of the victims of the Union Carbide Tragedy. The worst industrial disaster in the history of mankind.
This is the launch poster, which has postcards attached to it. You can pick a postcard, if you agree with the message, and post it to the PM.
The postcard project will go to schools and colleges and get students to design the postcards. We'll print and sell these postcards to raise funds for the Sambhavna Trust. And get people to post these cards to the PM as well.
December marks the anniversary of the Union Carbide tragedy in Bhopal. This year it will be the 26th year of being blind. We hope that we can open some eyes.

This poster was printed along with the postcards and distributed during the protests.

Here is what the poster says:

Tell us Prime Minister, did it hurt when they took out your eyes?
They must be gone because things that appall the rest of us, you seem not to see. You are blind to the agonies of 100,000 people who are still sick in Bhopal 25 years after Union Carbide... See More’s gases leaked there.
Blind to report after report recording the presence of pesticides and heavy metals in soil and water, and blood, in wombs, and mother’s milk.
Blind to the children born blind, lame, limbs twisted or missing, deaf-mute, brain-damaged, with cleft-lips, cleft palates, web fingers, cerebral palsy, tumours where should be
eyes – the children of Bhopal. The living children. The stillborn often can’t be recognised as human.
You are blind to the Supreme Court order to provide clean water and the failure of officials to obey it. MP Chief Minister Babulal Gaur said there was no money for clean water, then unveiled a 600 crore plan to beautify Bhopal with ornamental fountains.
Where were you when Bhopali women brought their damaged children to your house? You had them arrested. The policewomen who led them away wept, but your blind eyes did not.
When they came to your office to protest, did you shut your curtains and say to yourself, ‘I am the Prime Minister of India. I do not have to see police kicking and beating children.’
Why are you blind to promises you made after the Bhopalis walked to Delhi in 2006 and 2008? Where is the Empowered Commission on Bhopal? When will you take steps against Dow Chemical, the owner of Union Carbide?
Why are you blind to the note from India’s justice ministry, holding Dow Chemical
liable for contaminating Bhopal? And for paying for a clean-up?
Why are you blind to Dow’s admitted bribery of Indian government officials?
You have proved yourself blind to justice,
blind to honour, blind to decency, and to the suffering of the poor whom your high office binds you to protect.
Blind to everything but foreign dollars.
Prime Minister, can we get our eyes removed too? Because it is becoming extremely
difficult to see you ignore the truth and tell us, everything’s ok.



Comments

  • Hanna Clarys on 23rd May 2010:

    Hemant, I understand your anger and I share it. The postcard project might indeed raise awareness with those who have forgotten about the tragedy that happened 26 years ago but still causes damage and pain in people’s lifes today. Hopefully it will be a ‘success’.


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