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26 years on, Bhopal tragedy haunts the nation

Last updated on: December 3, 2010 10:50 IST

26 years on, Bhopal tragedy haunts the nation

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Even as the 26th anniversary of the Bhopal gas disaster is being observed in the city on Friday, its victims continue to be plagued with a number of problems that have not been resolved over the years.

Abdul Jabbar, convenor of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangthan, the first and the biggest organisation working for the disaster victims, told PTI that they were not suffering from one single problem alone.

"If only the victims had been treated properly, adequate compensation given to them and those guilty of the disaster punished, they would not have anything to complain about," he said.


Image: Local activists stage a demonstration
Photographs: Reinhard Krause/Reuters
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But Jabbar said it was unfortunate that all these steps have not been taken and continue to add to the unending daily misery of the victims.

"Even if one accepts the Bharatiya Janata Party's contention that the Congress had not done anything for the gas victims, one would like to ask what the BJP has done in the last seven years during which it has been in power in Madhya Pradesh," Jabbar said.

The Sangthan convenor said that as far as the disaster was concerned, there was not much difference between the Congress and the BJP and both were working like two sides of the same coin. Both these political parties had not done anything for the victims and only used them to further their own political ends, he added.


Image: The deserted Union Carbide factory
Photographs: Prasanna D Zore
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The Sangthan convenor said that both the Congress and the BJP had only been shedding crocodile tears for the gas victims from time to time.

"It would be wrong to assume or presume that the two parties had even a bit of real sympathy for the gas victims," Jabbar said.

He said it was really very sad that the issue of the Bhopal gas disaster was not raked up during American President Barack Obama's recent visit to this country.


Image: Activists of Amnesty International wear masks representing victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy
Photographs: Yves Herman/Reuters
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This was one opportunity that could have been used effectively to help the gas victims but it had been allowed to go waste, Jabbar added.

"Long back, noted freedom fighter Bhagat Singh had written that we can get freedom from the whites but how can we fight the black Englishmen since it would be difficult to identify them in our midst," he said.

What had happened in Bhopal indicated the manner in which multi-national companies were playing with the lives of people in this country, he said.

The first judgement related to the Bhopal gas disaster case was delivered in June this year by the chief judicial magistrate but the guilty were granted bail within an hour of the verdict.


Image: Bhopal gas tragedy survivors hold a dharna near Parliament
Photographs: Reuters
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Jabbar said this meant that because of the bail, it was ensured that not even a single person went to jail even for a day, following a disaster which claimed more than 15,000 lives and left more than five lakh people injured.

"This also is a very sore point with the victims who feel that they have been cheated as no one has been sent to jail in connection with the disaster," he said.

Following the chief judicial magistrate's judgement, Bhopal again hogged headlines in newspapers for some time and led to lot of activity for the victims. All this had not helped the victims in any way as it had not led to the resolution of their problems, the Sangthan Convenor added.


Image: A candle-light procession in memory of the victims
Photographs: Jewella C Miranda
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