Day 13: Aug 7, 2010
Rachna and Shalini visited parliamentarian Abni Roy who has been to the dharna sthal and been very supportive up to now. He wrote a detailed letter to the Prime Minister asking for a set of steps to be taken around Bhopal, based on our demands.
The girls wanted to go see Delhi today, unanimously they had planned to go see Red Fort. Unfortunately by the time they could wrap up the dharna work it was too late and they were short on money for travel. They were disheartened but very soon the volunteers from AID Delhi and NCR started collecting at the dharna site. Yasmin and Safreen who were unhappy about the cancellation of their travel plans were now engrossed in talking to AID volunteers about the campaigns that Children Against Dow Carbide has been involved with. The AID volunteers were very impressed with the ‘Give your ear to the PM’ campaign and were inquisitive about how these young girls have been doing such good work along with their regular studies. Banno Bee and Rachna discussed the ill effects of the toxins seeping in the land and contaminating the drinking water. They also spoke about Dow liabilities and the remediation processes that will help Bhopal.
The day drifted into a protest against the string of killings of young people in Kashmir, organized by a group of Kashmiris in Delhi at the opposite side of the road at Jantar Mantar. The younger Bhopalis trooped over in curiosity and in solidarity, taking along parchas for good measure. The people at the Kashmir demo asked us to please not distribute our parchas, so we complied. The group at the protest for Kashmir had a lot of Kashmiris, and it was great to see such a strong Kashmiri presence. It was mostly composed of middle class young Kashmiri men, dressed well, tall, lanky, with some older supporters, with a backdrop of the people to most recently lose their lives to Indian army bullets. The speeches were personal, fiery, with people expressing solidarity from struggles all over the country. As time passed more and more people from various parts of India joined the protest. Many of the young men and some supporters had much to say, so that a song that the Bhopalis wanted to sing in solidarity never materialized in front of the mic. Still the Bhopalis stayed for a couple of hours, amazed and glad that the same police that had dragged us away less than a week ago for being at Jantar Mantar beyond 5 pm stood warily aside as the crowd in the Kashmir protest swelled to 300 people filled with rage, and continued past 8, 9, 10 pm. Wishing them luck, the Bhopalis had to leave for their abode in Columbus school by its closing time of 9 pm, their only refuge from the hostile police presence in Jantar Mantar. With all the supposed moral upper ground conferred upon them by virtue of using non-violent tactics of protest, with all the support of the media, of politicians from virtually every powerful opposition political party, it was clear that very little progress had been made in bringing justice to the Bhopalis over this dharna, let alone over the last 26 years. With the government ignoring the quiet, non-violently expressed wishes of the majority of the Kashmiri and Bhopali people for years.. with the press responding only when stones are thrown in Kashmir to bring the state’s violence out in the public eye, or when a fraction of those culpable in Bhopal are sentenced too little and too late, does it make any sense to continue pretending that the moral ground of non-violent resistance has the strength to move the Indian state or media? Indian government – this is a question for you. Resistance arises from subversion of justice, and violent resistance from the persistent subversion of justice in the face of non-violent resistance. If you want to retain any credibility in urging “abjuring” from violence, you have a long way to walk in terms of listening to the voices of non-violent resistance.