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+ CHENNAI JHADOO MARCH+
 


Champa Devi Shukla from Bhopal with Sheelu and friends from Tamilnadu Women's Co-operative

Champa Devi talks about her experiences in Tamilnadu and Pondicherry

CHENNAI, 13 NOVEMBER 2002 Report from Nity

The conditions were right for a demo on the power of the jhadoo today.

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 poem:

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 Bhopal)
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

 

Thanks to the following organisations who took part:

1. Tamilnadu Women's Collective
2. Tamilnadu Fisherfolk Development Association
3. FEDCOT
4. Pondicherry Science Forum
5. Centre of Indian Trade Unions
6. Adecom Network
7. All India Farmers Association (All India Kisan Sabha)