Day 9: 3.08.10
The oppressive humidity of the last few days was offset today by a cool breeze, making the Bhopal dharna sthal positively enjoyable today. Much exchanging of notes about losses, bruises and confusion from our eviction by the police last night took place.
BJP party workers came over again to sit with our dharna people, however, making an effort to compensate for their past behavior. Meanwhile the BJP sthal stands nearby day & night, with polished glossy billboards and posters. I sauntered over to get a better look, and found a set of disturbing photos of piles of bodies left over after the disaster, with poetry overwritten in both Hindi and English. Another set of posters were photographs of newspaper headlines highlighting the inefficiency of the Congress. The effect was one of a profoundly disturbing, and exploitative experience, with the limited political message that the Congress Party was to blame. One particular picture, of a half naked woman splayed out on the floor, with her naked son next to her, was particularly disturbing – given that each photo in that exhibit was selected for effect, I wonder what the BJP party workers who decided to include that were thinking. Whether they thought that the helplessness of the woman to cover herself and her child as they perished due to the gas would come through. Whether they wondered if they, the BJP, guardians of morality, were being exploitative of this woman who couldn’t view her naked photo and object now that Union Carbide had killed her. Whether they thought that shock value at naked bodies would heighten the reaction of shock the rest of the pictures of piles of bodies and cattle were also calculated to induce. How they planned the overlying poems to induce rage, only for that rage to safely transfer into faith in the BJP and disillusionment with the Congress.
Meanwhile a second determined group of youngsters from Children Against Dow Carbide continued to reach out to Delhi schools about the gas disaster. Three young women visited Tagore International School in the norning and Bluebells School around noon. Each school had an audience of about 100-150 students of a mix of ages, who listened intently and asked a lot of interesting questions. An idea emerging out of the interactions with school children has been the idea that children from all the schools would visit the Bhopalis together on the 10th, and the students were very excited about this idea.
Today many people will once again leave for Bhopal, including Bano Aapa. Some are staying, like Sana and her family. Like Mamu, who was gas affected and has been with the struggle from the beginning, growing up through the deaths of most of his family members from the gas exposure. He planned to go back to Bhopal for a while but his friends at the dharna sthal insisted he stay. Rashida Bee is back at the dharna sthal from Bhopal, and more will arrive tomorrow.