JUST IN FROM SATINATH SARANGI IN BHOPAL
At 8 AM this morning we got information that the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Mr Babulal Gaur would be visiting the Union Carbide factory along with the Minister of Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation and other officials at 9 AM. Seven of us [Rashida Bee, Syyed M Irfan, Shahid Noor, Hazra Bee, Shezadi Bee, Nawab Khan and I]reached the Union Carbide factory gate at 8.50 AM. We were stopped at the gate by a posse of armed policemen. We found that Aloke Pratap Singh, Abdul Jabbar Khan and two of Jabbar’s colleagues were already inside the factory. We asked the District Collector why we were being stopped while Jabbar and others were being allowed in. The Collector replied that Aloke and Jabbar were officially approved as representatives of the gas affected people.
Sathyu puts questions to the Chief Minister
Then we spotted the Chief Minister’s convoy coming towards the factory. As planned, some of us took flower garlands out, and stood infront of the gate. [Politicians are known to be greedy of being garlanded.] The Chief Minister stopped his car immediately. Rashida, Irfan and others rushed to him with garlands and handed him a list of five questions and complained that we were being kept out of the factory while Aloke Pratap was allowed in. The Chief Minister directed the police officials to let six of us in [Nawab Bhai stayed with the crowd of our people who had begun gathering outside the gate in large numbers] and we followed him to the MIC Plant, then the administrative building and finally to the shed where most of the CHC and other waste is being stored by Ramky Ltd.
Twice the Chief Minister told us [infront of media] that he would answer our questions. (See questions on Press Releases)The Chief Minister spoke to the media persons outside the shed. He said that he was happy with the work of safekeeping of chemicals. He elaborated on two aspects one that the 20 wards that have not been included in the gas affected zone till now will be included as gas affected and that the state government will build a park and a memorial at the site of the Union Carbide factory after clearing away the chemical waste.
Chief Minister Gaur answering first two questions
After speaking to the media the Chief Minister turned to us. I read him the questions. In answer to the first question he answered that his party was not in power for most of the last twenty years. I reminded him that he himself was the Gas Relief Minister in 1990 when the issue of chemical waste and ground water contamination came up for the first time. He said that was a long time ago.
In answer to the second question he replied that the work was not being done secretly and we were kept away for our own safety.
Gaur walks away in the middle of the questions
Before I could finish asking the third of the five questions he said he has to leave and left midway promising to us that he would answer all our questions if we come to his bungalow.
We then spoke to the media who were eager to have our responses to the points mentioned by the Chief Minister. We told the media that the Chief Minsiter has misinformed them that the 20 wards will be included and that it was scientifically, legally and morally improper for these wards to be included.
We also said that the Madhya Pradesh government colluded with Union Carbide Corporation and was as much responsible for the death of over 20, 000 Bhopalis and sickness of hundreds of thousands of people as the killer company. We held that a killer can not have the right to build a memorial in memory of the persons he has killed and asserted that only the victims had the moral right to build a memorial and they will decide what kind of memorial will be built and when.