Pankaj Chaudhary, dailyindia.com
New Delhi, Aug.12: Bhopal gas tragedy victims observed the 250th anniversary of the Battle of Plassey by conferring on Mir Jafar awards on a dozen of politicians and well-known personalities from different walks of life here on Saturday.
The gathering remembered Mir Jafar, the famed betrayer, who had sided with the British Indian Company and let down his own compatriots leading to their defeat.
But the mode to remember Mir Jafar was the institution of a series of awards named after him.
Under the banner of Dalal Foundation, the survivors of the Union Carbide’s catastrophe of 1984 from Bhopal, conferred ‘awards’ on selective public figures for their acts of treachery to the nation.
The survivors of the gas tragedy drew a parallel to the treacherous acts of Mir Jafar to certain public figures for having let them down in terms of adequate compensation and proper rehabilitation.
The awards were publicly conferred to persons wearing respective masks of politicians, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister P.Chidambram and Commerce Minister Kamal Nath. The others included industrialists Ratan Tata, Mukesh Ambani and Ashok Punjwani of Bharuch Environ Infrastructure Limited (BEIL).
Among others, the spokesman of Congress party, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who also handles the brief of DOW Chemicals, senior bureaucrats such as the Principal Secretary in Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) T K A Nair and former Cabinet Secretary B K Chaturvedi. Another award winner was the former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Babu Lal Gaur for ‘betraying’ the gas victims.
The survivors of the tragedy were disappointed over the half-hearted attempts of the people in power or holding high positions to understand their plight.
Rashida Bee, a leader of the Bhopal Gas Affected Women Stationary Workers Association, said: “They (the politicians) just want that these companies should come here and invest. They just care for their own pockets. They don’t know that this poisonous water, soil can also affect their own lives. From this award we want to tell them that although Mir Jafar is no more, his legacy of treachery prevails.”
The survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy and the residents of Nandigram and Singur that recently witnessed violence in West Bengal over Special Economic Zone (SEZ) issue, gave the awards.
The award ceremony was attended by actress turned activist Nafisa Ali and character actress Suhasini Mulay.
It was also decided to make the event an annual feature.
The Battle of Plassey took place on June 23, 1757 at Palashi on the banks of the River Bhagirathi, about 150 kilometres north of Calcutta, near Murshidabad, then the capital of the Nawab of Bengal. The opponents were Siraj Ud Daulah, the last independent Nawab of Bengal, and the British East India Company
Mir Jafar, for his betrayal of the Nawab Siraj Ud Daulah and alliance with the British, was installed as the new Nawab, while Siraj Ud Daulah was captured on July 2 in Murshidabad as he attempted to escape further north. He was later executed on the order of Mir Jafar’s son.