with me into the
sufferings, not only of
the people of India but
of the whole world.
Non-violence is a more
active and real fight
against wickedness than
retaliation whose very
nature is to increase
wickedness. It is not a
weapon of the weak. It
is a weapon of the
strongest and bravest.
Delhi Dharna, 28 June to 17 July
The action began
on 28 June when two women survivors of the Union Carbide gas leak, Tara Bai,
36, and Rashida Bi, 46, accompanied by long term Bhopal activist Satinath
(Sathyu) Sarangi, 48, sat down outside the Indian Parliament at Jantar Mantar,
New Delhi, and vowed to take no food until the Government reversed its decision.
They were accompanied by hundreds of gas survivors from Bhopal, with their
children. The survivors sang songs and bhajans to keep up the morale of the
is thirty-six years old. She was nineteen when the gas leaked, and three
months pregnant. The gas burnt her lungs as she fled the lethal cloud.
She lost her baby, and was told that she could never conceive again.
She is partially blind, has chronic breathing difficulties and has been
diagnosed with neurological problems.
is forty-six and has lost five gas-exposed members of her family to
cancers. Left permanently semi-blind by Carbides gases, she leads
one of the most active survivors organizations. This hunger-strike
is not the first time she has undertaken an ordeal. In Bhopal she is
legendary for having once led several hundred women and children on
a month-long march to Delhi. They walked, day after day, through the
heat, often thirsty, sleeping at night in forests full of snakes and
scorpions and animals as hungry as they were.
is forty-eight. A brilliant metallurgical engineer, he gave up everything
to help the gas-affected of Bhopal. He came to the city the day after
the disaster and has stayed ever since.
Tara, Sathyu and Rashida, satyagraha in 45†C
demanded that the Indian Government should
ITS APPLICATION TO DILUTE THE OUTSTANDING CRIMINAL CHARGES against Warren
Anderson and Union Carbide, from which they have been absconding for 11 years.
And PRESS FOR THE EXTRADITION of Warren Anderson and Carbide executives
from the USA, invoking the existing treaty.
DOW CHEMICALS (of which Union Carbide is now a wholly owned subsidiary)
to assume Union Carbide's liabilities in Bhopal as they have done in cases
in the USA
iii) RESCIND ITS ORDER to distribute the compensation money, that rightfully
belongs to the survivors, among 20 non-gas-affected wards. Instead, the Government
should arrange to distribute the money to the victims of the disaster, 94
percent of whom have till date received a meagre Rs. 25,000 ($500) for lifelong
health impacts and lost livelihoods.
progress of the Dharna
Quite early on
there were fears about how soon the hunger strikers would be in danger, because
the overdue rains did not come and day after day the sun beat down on them,
lifting temperatures to 45†C, 115†F.
July 2002 - Day8 .
8 July 2002 - Day 10
On 10 July
- Day 12, an urgent email appeal in the form of a long letter was
sent out giving the background to:
- Warren Anderson
(Carbide CEO) and Carbide refuse for 11 years to appear before Bhopal court
- in contempt,
they are declared "absconders from justice". Interpol warrant
issued for Anderson
- are rewarded
by the prospect of having charges against them reduced
- the Delhi
- medical consequences
of prolonged fasting
Gandhiji's ultimate expression of non-violent protest
me", a poem by a gas survivor
- response to
despair and constant denial of justice
that Union Carbide have never had to answer in court
- failure of
multiple safety systems at the Carbide factory
NIGHT " -- what actually happened in Bhopal on 3 December 1984
and contrast with 9.11
- the opening
shots of the legal battle -- ambulance chasing lawyers arrive from NY
- Carbide moves
to have case heard in India - promises to obey Indian courts
- Carbide attempts
to obstruct proceedings - threat to call 500,000 witnesses
- the Indian
Government assumes role of plaintiff and sells out survivors
stock on Wall Street leaps at news of paltry "settlement"
and a half years of illness - the continuing medical catastrophe
epidemics - menstrual chaos, monstrous births, cancers
have had just $500 for nearly 18 years of suffering
- Carbide (now
Dow's) refusal to this day to reveal composition of gases that leaked (trade
- Carbide (now
Dow's) refusal to this day to share results of its medical studies on MIC
- inaction of
US and Indian governments on extraditing Anderson and Carbide officials
evidence to link Anderson and board to cutting safety measures at Bhopal
Lapierre and Javier Moro's new book "Five Past Midnight In Bhopal"
- the neglected
and abandoned Carbide factory is still full of lethal chemicals
- a 2001 fire
at the factory emits clouds of MIC, the main gas that killed 17 years earlier
- local communities
being poisoned by dangerously contaminated water
Lapierre's description of drinking a glass of water from a well near the
- profiles of
the two women hunger strikers, Tara Bai's suffering and courage
- Rashida Bi's
long walk to Delhi with 300 women and children through jungles and heat
- urgent appeal
for help in view of imminent court hearing
words about the third hunger striker, the writer's friend, Sathyu Sarangi
- short extract
from a book "The Cybergypsies" about Sathyu's character
It was circulated
by networks of friends and was widely published throughout the world. Full
12 July 2002 - Day 14 . 14 July
2002 - Day 16
July - Day 18 without food - worldwide protests
Bianca Jagger's message of support
In New Delhi,
a mass rally of survivors and their supporters, among whom was writer Arundhati
Roy, marched to Parliament to support the hunger strikers' demands. Promises
of support were received from many political parties, including from Sonia
Gandhi, President of Congress (I). At this rally, Tara and Rashida, whose
bodies were already weakened by gas-injuries suffered on "that night"
and seventeen and a half years of illness, became faint and collapsed. They
were rushed to hospital.
large rallies in Chennai, Bangalore and Baroda echoed
the hunger strikers' demands.
Around the world there were protests outside Indian embassies and
High Commissions in New York, Washington DC, Cape Town,
Madrid and other places. In London a 1000 signature petition
was handed in to the Indian High Commission. In Venice, Deputy
Bettin and members of his administration were in the middle of a three-day
fast supporting the Delhi hunger strikers. Groups and individuals protested
in Stockholm, Amsterdam, Ramatuelle and Castelfranc in France. In the
USA there were actions in Texas, Louisiana, Delaware, Ohio, Oregon,
California, Florida and many other places.
Poster used in the 16 July actions
partial victory and 40 days in the wilderness
conceded the third demand. Gas survivors' money will now not be distributed
in non gas-affected parts of the city.
protests around the world, on 17 July the Government went ahead with its
application in the Bhopal Magistrates Court. However the Court accepted
a counter-submission from the survivors' organisations and adjourned the
case until 27 August. After the adjournment was announced, Sathyu broke
his fast, accepting a glass of orange juice from a Bhopali child.
on the far side of the world, a fisherwoman, skipper of a shrimp trawler
in San Antonio Bay, Texas, took over the hunger strike and launched the
Relay Hunger Strike.