Bhopal gas tragedy, 1984, India. Photographer Raghu Rai

Bhopal gas tragedy, 1984, India. Photographer Raghu Rai



 “Today’s verdict is a disaster… They’ve made it look like a traffic accident,” said Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action, an NGO representing the survivors and an activist who has been involved with the victims since the 1984 disaster.  

I am, like many including the victims, stunned and shocked by this verdict, a travesty of justice that shamed India…a light punishment given to those who involved in a holocaust like crime against innocent, helpless Indians, the intensity of which moved/moving us deeply. A light punishment after a highly frustrating and long winding judicial process, renders it quite anguishing a journey for the victims , a bitter memory to live with for all of us…It is a big blow to our faith in our justice system, which anyway is dwindling thanks to the never ending crimes with dismaying  outcomes/verdicts being churned on by the system. I am furious that Union Carbide professionals were convicted only for criminal negligence, which is punishable with a maximum of two years in jail, despite the enormity of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy. Is this how we deliver justice to the hapless, innocent victims of the world’s worst industrial tragedy stirred up by an American firm in our land? I do not want to get into the basics, but are not we supposed to raise our voice to support our fellow Indians in this fight for justice, which now is BURIED, RUTHLESSLY BURIED?

Elderly survivors of Bhopal Gas TragedyThe victims are suffering the worst consequences of corporate apathy, bureaucratic red tape, judicial sluggishness, right in front of us….a living example of how we as a society miserably failed to drive a movement against this terrible tragedy. I wonder, are we so blinded by power and skies-kissing aspirations, increasingly considering the poor and disadvantaged as unpleasant attributes of the country’s landscape? who are the reason behind them to be so?

More than 20,000 people died when the deadly menthyl-iso-cyanate leaked from the multinational Union Carbide Corporation’s pesticide formulation factory in Bhopal. An estimated of 8000 people died within the first three days, as this deadly gas leaked from the plant and surrounded Bhopal city on the night of December 2nd,1984. A population of nearly half a million was severely affected. More than 150,000 survivors have been injured for life. It is nothing less than holocaust. In the years that followed, people exposed to the gas kept dying or suffered from life-long ailments and complications. Even after 25 years, toxic waste continues to seep into the ground water.

Raghu Rai, covered the world’s worst industrial disaster   

a sense of anguish and depression throbs in the voices of survivors 

“We are not expendable. We are flowers offered at the altar of profit and power. We are dancing flames committed to conquering darkness and to challenging those who threaten the planet and the magic and mystery of life’ – Rashida Bee, Bhopal Gas Tragedy survivor.

Updates : Internationally acclaimed Indian filmmaker Shekar Kapur denounced the verdict terming it “completely irrelevant’. He said on his blog ‘those on whose shoulders lies the responsibility of this avoidable, irresponsible, completely mismanaged accident have long since made their deals with the government of India and gone. It was one of the greatest and most brutal sellouts by the government of India and its courts of the people of India”. He further wrote “who cared about the poor people of Bhopal? Certainly not our own government who like cannibals preyed upon their own people…this judgment just proves that you could do anything in India and get away with it”

Actress Gul Panag said, ‘Mockery of justice. Then again we have got used to it. Such little value for human life and its again on display”. Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan too hinted his displeasure with the court judgment “The public and most concerned voices show discontent. 15,000 dead and hundreds suffering the aftereffects of the leak, and only two years in jail for the management of the company…absolute shock on the outcome – an outcome after 25 years have passed when the disaster occurred”