Oh Bhopal!

June 13, 2010
Abhinandan Mishra

Oh Bhopal...

Mockery of justice was again seen in my country when the judicial pronouncement for the Bhopal gas tragedy was announced.

Digest this - after over 25 years, eight people were convicted for the world's worst industrial disaster and sentenced to two years in prison. One of them died during the course of the trial. The other seven were granted bail. About 20,000 people were killed in the Bhopal gas tragedy of December 2-3, 1984.

The iconic picture of a child, whose face is only visible became the pictorial signature of that unfortunate night and was clicked by photojournalist Pablo Bartholomew. He too was heartbroken when he heard about the "too little too late" judgement.

Thousands and thousands like him, people from every sphere of life, activists, common men, students, and farmers too are going through a mixture of varied emotions. Anger, pity, apathy, helplessness, but deep inside they have accepted the fact that what has been done is done and nothing can be achieved more.

Those who died cannot be brought back. They simply won't come back. This resignation to the situation doesn't develop overnight, it comes with age and it comes when such incidents happen again and again and still things remain the same. Same politicians ranting, accusing each other, same ways of protest, changing facebook profile picture, showing compassion through status message, forwarding sms. Even the media doesn't do much. Same channel, same talk show, same gestures, high pitch voices.

This helplessness and the feeling alike is not against the Bhopal gas tragedy. It has a much more deep rooted origin. It is against the whole system.

This has developed through time. When Godhra happened, when violence in Maharastra took place, when hundreds died in a train accident and the railway minister said that it was all related to a political conspiracy to malign her, when a man who should have been hanged long back is kept alive all in the name of minority appeasement, such unique yet identical incidents give birth to this feeling of apathy and helplessness.

Meanwhile political games have already begun.

Congress leaders are in a huddle so as to whom to make a scapegoat. Was it the CM, the PM or a mixture of both that made a way for Anderson to flee India. Not too far, BJP is in another huddle, devising out ways in Patna, where its national executive meet is going on and in Bhopal on how to push the Congress further into a corner.

Then there is a former Supreme court judge who says that he did not commit any mistake by agreeing to head a multimillion dollar trust set up by Union Carbide after the tragic gas leak.

The same judge in 1996 converted the CBI charge under the stringent provisions of 304-II that provided for maximum of 10-year imprisonment to Section with two-year maximum imprisonment and reduced the charge of culpable homicide not amounting to murder to causing death by negligence.

Clearly the law didn't take its natural course. But then it would have been naive for anyone to even expect that it will, such was the nature of this high case. Much more than anyone could make out was and is at stake.

In the end what matters is, those who have survived they should be looked after. Those who died, they are not alive, they don't need any attention but the survivors do. Those who will be born with deformities and weak immune system they will need money and resources to live a life that will be far away from normal. Yet since they have life they will have to survive, with or without government help.

Forget Anderson, forget who drove him to the airport, ignore who called whom to arrange for his departure. But let's not forget those who need life and support. Help them and you will be helping those who died on that night for no purpose. Many of them were sleeping and most of them never woke up again.

Bhopal lost something on the night of December 3, 1984 and nothing but time will heal those wounds that have been felt by generations and will be experienced by many more to come.

A law graduate from NLIU, Bhopal.Worked for 2 years as a journalist in media organizations like Qatar Tribune, PTI and UNI. Now more of just 'a writer' rather than a 'paid' writer.
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