Champa Devi Shukla from Bhopal with Sheelu and friends from
Tamilnadu Women's Co-operative
Devi talks about her experiences in Tamilnadu and Pondicherry
13 NOVEMBER 2002 Report from Nity
The conditions were right for a demo on the power of the jhadoo
Nearly 200 women had gathered in front of the Munroe Statue, including
about 50 women in black sarees. These were the same women -- from
Tamilnadu Women's Collective -- who had organised a relay hunger
strike where 16 women (one each from each district where they
are represented) fasted each day for more than 30 days leading
up to the Bhopal court hearing on September 28.
Today's rally and demo all looked innocuous enough when it began.
The cops were pleasantly lolling by, until one saw the small pile
of 10 jhadoos lying on the pavement. The reaction was unexpected
and instantaneous. He cornered us, and begged, beseeched, explained
and threatened us against using the jhadoos. He said there were
court orders prohibiting demonstrations of "these kinds."
When pressed, he revealed the cause for his and the government's
unease -- What if women around Tamilnadu started wielding brooms
to demonstrate their ire against any and sundry social inequities?
More power to them, we ought to have said. But we were more interested
in ensuring that the rally was completed, and the women of Tamilnadu
could get a full and real idea of the various creative uses a
broom could be put to. Most importantly, we wanted to ensure that
Dow (We're sure you're reading this) was made aware that their
name is now in tatters, now in Tamilnadu.
We started the rally with just two brooms, and ended the rally
with 80 brooms wielded by women aged between 20 and 60. Some held
it with the tied end upwards -- they say that when you want to
add pain to shame, this grip is much more effective.
DOW: Hope you're reading this.
Sometime in the near future, we're sure you'll have the opportunity
to see live what it feels like to have a hundred jhadoo-wielding
women chanting slogans against you. You have a way out, you know.
You could just give in to their demands and accept Union Carbide's
liabilities in Bhopal -- especially since that is the right thing
to do anyway.
Champa Devi chants a slogan (a new one) that reads more like a
Le Jhadoo Chal Pade Hain, Log Hum Bhopal Ke
Ab Safai Karaa Hi Lenge, Log Hum Bhopal Ke.
(Armed with brooms, we have set off, we the people of Bhopal
Now, we're sure we'll get this place cleaned, we the people of
Mangne se Kuch Milta Nahin, Ye Jankar
Ab Andolan Hi Karenge Log Hum Bhopal Ke.
(Knowing well that you get nothing by merely asking
Now we're resolved for struggle, we the people of Bhopal
to the following organisations who took part:
Tamilnadu Women's Collective
2. Tamilnadu Fisherfolk Development Association
4. Pondicherry Science Forum
5. Centre of Indian Trade Unions
6. Adecom Network
7. All India Farmers Association (All India Kisan Sabha)