CHENNAI: ‘My name is Bismillah Bee. I am 45. My son Sajid who died, this is his sweater...’ reads the account of a Bhopal gas tragedy survivor. The sweater is small and peach coloured. Sajid was three years old. Next to the sweater are chains that adolescents tied themselves with, to protest against Union Carbide.
The exhibition showcases objects that people who suffered from this tragedy used, audio recordings of survivors’ accounts and emotions of the children who lost their limbs and senses. The People’s Museum in Bhopal, put together by the Remember Bhopal Trust intends to bring out the questions on justice and industrial expansion that still lie unsolved.
The exhibition at Studio Palazzo, Chennai, brings together some of these objects that were donated by the survivors to the volunteers.
“Half my life is over, but I still see people who have not got justice,” says Gnani, writer and social commentator. “Suits and shoes used by movie stars are auctioned, but nobody cares about the clothes of people who died here. The authorities and the corporates here want to wash their hands of responsibility.”
Besides raising funds, the campaign wishes to show startling differences in facts related to the tragedy. “The records show the number of deaths as 5,295 but the Indian Council of Medical Research has reported over 12,000 deaths. An additional compensation of `1 lakh was announced, but only seven per cent of the survivors were paid this amount, while the rest were left out without any scientific or legal resource,” says Nityanand Jayaraman, an activist.
To provide justice, five women survivors of the Union Carbide disaster began a fast in Jantar Mantar, New Delhi, along with a thousand survivors.
“Bhopal is not a finished story. In the name of cost cutting and profit, safety measures are ignored. Corporate accountability comes down because of measures like self certification,” says Vasanthi Devi, former Vice-Chancellor of Manonmaniam Sundaranar University.
Swachh Bharat apart, the activists demand a Swachh Bhopal, to prioritise the issue of cleaning toxic contamination in Bhopal and give people their due.