We were about 350 people in all. About 10 men, the rest all women. We reached the Director’s office [Director, Department of Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation, Madhya Pradesh Government] around noon. The office is right opposite the Governor’s residence and hence within a high security zone, but it took a while for the police force to respond.
By the time the first posse of cops arrived the women were all inside the Director’s office. The Director himself was not there, just his office staff. All the rooms were occupied by the women, some even adjusting the coolers to suit their comfort. The big rooms and the corridor reverberated with slogans:
Stop poisoning our children
Arrange for a clean water supply
Implement the Supreme Court’s order
Madhya Pradesh Government stop lying.
The banners we hung outside said “We want water from Kolar Reservoir through pipe lines”. More than a dozen TV and newspaper reporters were on the scene recording the occasional clashes with the cops. There were two trucks with policepersons in full riot gear and two riot control vans in the office compound.
We told the police officials that we would be peaceful and would end the occupation only after a written assurance from the Director about laying down pipelines to bring water to these communities. An hour into the occupation the Director came and a meeting was organised with the demonstrators in the presence of media persons and the police officials.
Bhupal singh agreed to provide us with a written assurance regarding supply of piped water. While it wasn’t what we had aimed for [we wanted an assurance that a pipeline would be laid within one month] it was possibly the first clear response we have got on this so far. There was much cheering and more slogan chanting by the women as they left the Director’s office.
We can help them by writing, faxing or emailing in protest to:
Mr Iqbal Ahmed
Secretary, Department of Gas Relief
Government of Madhya Pradesh
phone: +91 755 441424
fax: +91 755 257 1399