Pragya Bhagat, Bhopal, March 11, 2007
A week. That is how long the marchers to New Delhi had to fast in order for the Prime Minister to agree to meet with them. Seven excruciating days of gut wrenching pain and physical degeneration is what it took for Manmohan Singh to accept four of the six demands the Padyatris placed before him. Yet it has been seven days and the Chief Minster of Madhya Pradesh has still not implemented the four demands that the Prime Minister agreed to a year ago. Six individuals are losing weight by the day, even though their blood sugar has increased since they started drinking Electral with their water. The police presence is sparse compared to yesterday, but that does not mean that they can not show up unexpectedly. They are still monitoring our actions through their representatives across the street. After all, the media will not let them forget why we have been at the Tinshed for twenty days now.
Yesterday’s successful resistance against the police was inked in ten newspapers and shown on numerous news channels today. This led to further coverage as microphones and bulky cameras clustered around Sathyu in the afternoon, eagerly awaiting his update. An hour later, more support arrived in the form of twenty-five men drumming loudly down the street towards the tent. They came from Blue Moon Colony, a water-contaminated community. As their dhol beat loudly, their chants became progressively louder. Their fists were clenched tightly, thrown in the air with each pulsating beat of the drum. Some of the older women danced to its thudding rhythm, expressing their fervor through the flowing movement of their weathered frames. The men from Blue Moon garlanded each of the fasters and offered their gratitude through a simple handshake, a hug, or a smile. Usually it is the women who lead the way in this campaign, but this time the fathers and sons of Bhopal took a stand against the Madhya Pradesh government in solidarity with the fasters.
The day quickly melts into the evening and the lone light bulb that has lived through twenty tense nights is finally giving out. It flashes hypnotically, dimming and brightening the faces of those that sit inside the flapping canvas. The youth from Yuva Samwad arrive and join the women supporters from Mahila Manch who have spent the day at the Tinshed. There are now people from three supporting organisations sitting in solidarity with the survivors; the movement at the dharna is growing stronger with each passing day, while the current administration is being defaced in the eyes of the public. The youth join the survivors in song as the beat of the drum once again fills the tent.
Isliye Rah Sangharsh Ki Hum Chune
Zindagi Aasuon Mein Nahayi Na Ho.
We have chosen the path of struggle
So that our life is not bathed in tears.
We want to be able to drink water without throwing up. We want to have children without wondering if they will be missing limbs. We want a life where smiles are not a rarity, a life where every day isn’t survived but relished with satisfaction. Let us hope that day is not too far off now.