Aye aye aye, what’s all this then?

Hysterically funny news has just reached us. Chief Minister Gaur visited a Bhopal police station the other day and was appalled by the size of the pandus. He has ordered them to go jogging and practice yoga. They are to clean up their filthy police chowkis and must watch movies on good behaviour.

We would like particularly to draw the Chief Minister’s attention to the distressing condition of Reserve Inspector Chauhan. As you can see from the picture below, the portly fellow is scarcely able to mount into his police vehicle. Exercise will also make him better able to swing his fist into the faces of people he dislikes.

On 25 November 2002, tiring of nothing whatever being done about the toxic chemicals abandoned in Union Carbide’s factory, the local people decided to begin a clean-up themselves. The chemicals have been lying in the factory since THAT NIGHT when thousands died in the gas leak. Some are heaped in the open air. Twenty monsoons have washed their toxins deep underground and into drinking wells. Lead, mercury and organochlorines have been found in breast milk of women living nearby. People are getting sick. Union Carbide (Dow Chemical) disclaims responsibility. The corporation blames the local government and the government blames the corporation. Meanwhile nothing at all is being done to protect the local people.

People were fed up. They said, “If no one else will clean up this factory that is poisoning us, by god we’ll do it ourselves.” On 25 November 2002 local people entered the factory along with friends and experts who know how to handle poisons. Their plan was to begin containing the visible waste, lock it in sealed drums in a warehouse and hand the keys to the authorities.

Police arrived with rifles, shields and batons. Our friends sat on the ground to protest. Champa Devi Shukla (joint-winner of this year’s Goldman Award) led the chant of ‘Jhadoo Maro Dow Ko!’ (Whack Dow with a broom!) Reserve Inspector Chauhan came wading into the crowd. He grabbed a young man and he and another copper dragged him to the police truck and he was flung in. Not without difficulty, Chauhan climbed in.

‘Who gave you permission?’ Chauhan threw the first punch. Hauled back for the next. ‘I asked you, Where’s your permission?’

Back came the fist. Our friend tried to shield his face. Third punch landed. At this point the police spotted our video camera. This happened just before the 18th anniversary. In a few weeks it will be the 20th. The poisons sleep in peace, the killer plant goes on killing.

If you want to help us do something about the poisons and the contaminated water, get involved. The more people pile on the pressure the harder it will be for Dow and politicians to ignore. A resolution has been tabled in the US Congress, calling on Dow to assume responsibility for Union Carbide’s mess and clean it up. US citizens should lobby their representatives to support this resolution, #503.

Meanwhile here is a poster (large PDF, 1.6megs) of the incident described above. If you would like copies for distribution to colleagues, friends or to put up in schools and colleges, please email us.


Yoga and jogging 10 km twice a day followed by lectures on good behaviour and a movie in the night — this has become the routine for policemen in this Madhya Pradesh capital on the orders of Chief Minister Babulal Gaur.

On a surprise visit to police stations in Bhopal last week, Gaur was annoyed to see flabby and out of shape policemen. He was also aghast to see the dirty conditions and poor maintenance of police stations.

“Reduce your weight and keep police stations clean and in order,” Gaur curtly told the policemen.

The very next day, most police stations were cleaned and whitewashed. Old, unwanted files were destroyed and necessary ones were kept in order. New tablecloths and curtains replaced soiled ones.

One task over, Bhopal’s Deputy Inspector General of Police Sanjay Singh and Superintendent of Police Pawan Shrivastava sat together to frame a plan for reducing the weight of their men.

On Friday, 60 policemen reached the Police Training and Research Centre where they were first given lessons in yoga. They were then made to jog 10 km.

In the afternoon, the batch again assembled at the centre to attend lectures on good behaviour. The evenings were reserved for more yoga and jogging. For entertainment in the night, the policemen were shown a movie.

“This programme will be conducted for batches of policemen every week. Once the programme is over, the policemen will be asked to practice yoga in their homes for half-an-hour every day,” a senior police official told IANS.

“The men are being given a week’s off while they attend the yoga classes. The whole exercise will continue till all policemen learn the basics of yoga and are physically fit,” he said.
But a retired state police chief said the effort to reduce the weight of police personnel would not bear fruit.

“Just three or four months back, the policemen of Bhopal were taught yoga at the behest of Sanjay Singh. But the chief minister still found the policemen overweight,” the retired officer said on condition of anonymity. “That means Singh’s efforts were useless. I feel that strong action must be taken against overweight policemen. After all, policemen need to be the fittest.”

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