#NoMoreBhopal: To Be Or Not To Be Gandhi In Bhopal

#NoMoreBhopal: To Be Or Not To Be Gandhi In Bhopal

“I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honour than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonour. But I believe that nonviolence is infinitely superior to violence, forgiveness is more manly than punishment.” – Mahatma Gandhi
 
These words have been the lodestar of India’s moral victory against the tyrannical British empire. But as one is revisits Bhopal, these words change meaning. Bhopal is living proof of the worst corporate crime and genocide in the world.
 
The evidence of the inhumane murder of a people or a city and of dignity by Dow Carbide perpetrated on the night of 2/3rd December 1984 is littered all over Bhopal. One has to rarely look beyond street corners, or children’s eyes to deduct what is still happening to the city. A place where living in poison is not abnormal, it is forced to be the norm. Here people are broken not using police, or tear gas, they are simply obliterated using chemical weapons that originated in Germany’s Nazi war factories.
 
Torn with between deep disgust and helplessness, I spoke with a veteran Gandhian, Dayaram Namdev, secretary of the Gandhi Bhavan, Bhopal.
 
 
 
Wearing his hand spun khadi jacket and white kurta, he has dedicated his life to the Gandhian cause. Apart for fighting against injustice and corporate control, Dayaram is now the overseer of an old age home and the conservator of the Gandhi Bhavan, Bhopal. When you walk into his one room home, sweet tea greets you, with burst of hearty laughter. He shares this with his wife, Mataji and grand daughter.
 
As the spiced tea increased the pH in our stomachs, and the sugar rushed to our brains, a grim conversation began. “What happened that night, where were you?” I asked.
 
“Bhopal genocide is the only comparable event to the atomic disaster of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It has caused the worst kind of human suffering which killed 15, 000 people in a matter of hours and since has destroyed lives of hundreds of thousands people. Bhopal is still burning with the effects of the methyl isocyanate (MIC) poisons as Japan burned with radiations from the blasts,” was his answer.
 
He described the crimes as the nadir of evil, where one company had employed heinous ways to trade and gain from death. “It is nothing but a demonic vampirism. They were driven to trade human lives for corporate profits. There is no other way to describe the night,” he was numb, emotionless. Maybe he was reminded of the his station master friend, who died on the station, trying to signal trains to not enter Bhopal or his countless glass eyed children, who were burnt with petrol and kerosene, as there was no fuelwood left to cremate the dead. The little ones far from living a good life, couldn’t even get a decent death.
 
Breaking the silence, I asked, so what now? “Now Bhopal is everywhere! These companies have taken over all our foods. All across India, their poisons are being sprayed and farmers are forced to believe that these will increase “productivity”. But all this is a lie. Like in Gandhiji’s time, we had the British imperialists, now we are seeing a takeover by their bigger brothers: the corporations,” he said.
 
Was this his call to arms? What can we do? “Pray you never fall sick, rarely from the body, but never from the heart. We should all in our own way initiate a satyagraha against these corporations. Pledge to boycott the killers of Bhopal,” he said sternly. His body was overcome with a militant disgust, and yet his words and suggestions remained non-violent and Gandhian.
 
(Cover Photo: An iconic image from the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. Taken by photographer Raghu Rai in 1984, it depicts the burial of an unknown child killed in the tragedy)
 
Article originally published by the Citizen: 2 DECEMBER, 2016
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