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The Survivors of Bhopal

"Union Carbide lives on and waits for us to die..."

The survivors of the world's worst-ever industrial disaster have suffered from two days of horror and two decades of apathy. Read their stories below.


If you would like to contact any of these survivors, please contact the Sambhavna Clinic.

Rashida Bee & Champa Devi Shukla
Two gas survivors and trade unionists turned Bhopal activists who have ignited the international campaign to seek justice for disaster survivors. Since 1984 Bee has lost six family members to cancer. Shukla, who has one grandchild born with congenital deformities, lost her husband and her health. Bee and Shukla’s courage and tenacity have galvanized the grassroots in their own country and abroad. In the process, they’ve drawn low-income, illiterate women like themselves from the margins of society to the center of a closely watched showdown whose endgame is to hold Dow Chemical accountable for the gas leak and its deadly legacy. Since their campaign began with a 580 km march to New Delhi in 1989, seeking justice, Rashida and Champa have traveled the globe. Their efforts were honored with the Goldman Environmental Prize, known as the "Nobel Prize for the environment" in 2004.

Rashida & Champa #2
Two gas survivors and trade unionists turned Bhopal activists who have ignited the international campaign to seek justice for disaster survivors. Since 1984 Bee has lost six family members to cancer. Shukla, who has one grandchild born with congenital deformities, lost her husband and her health. Bee and Shukla’s courage and tenacity have galvanized the grassroots in their own country and abroad. In the process, they’ve drawn low-income, illiterate women like themselves from the margins of society to the center of a closely watched showdown whose endgame is to hold Dow Chemical accountable for the gas leak and its deadly legacy. Since their campaign began with a 580 km march to New Delhi in 1989, seeking justice, Rashida and Champa have traveled the globe. Their efforts were honored with the Goldman Environmental Prize, known as the "Nobel Prize for the environment" in 2004.

Razia Bee
"We were sleeping peacefully that night. I got up to find the children vomiting all over."

Raisa Bee
She died at 6.45 in the morning of 31st October, 1996 in the TB Hospital. She was four years old when she was severely exposed to Carbide's toxic gases.

Ramesh
"I was also trying to find our cow and found her in a street coughing. My dog lay dead. Two of my friends Santosh and Rajesh also had died."

Sajida
"I remember everyone vomiting and groaning and then joining the crowd of people who were trying to run away from the clouds of poison."

Reshma
"I have very painful periods. My mother has to give me hot fomentation. Even with that the pain gets unbearable. I dread my periods."

Hajra Bi
"So we carried the children in our arms and joined the surging crowd outside, all trying to get away. People were running blindly. Many were falling down."

Shahabuddin
"After I got exposed, for two years I was so breathless I could not do any work."

Jewan Shinde
"It felt like someone was burning chillies. I got really scared and out of fear I opened the door. Outside everyone was running, screaming, nothing could be seen - the thick fog hung everywhere. It was clear that we were being poisoned."

Sharda Vishwakarma
"All of us were coughing and vomiting and it was getting more and more unbearable."

Jubeda Bi
"We coughed and vomited all the way and our clothes were soiled. My daughter Shabana was four years old and she almost never stopped coughing since that night. She died after seven years."

Zubeda Bi
"I also no longer wear saris. A relative of mine who was wearing a sari got thrown onto a pyre. She was just unconscious. She woke up and ran. Since then no woman in my family wears a sari."

Bano Bi
"I believe that even if we have to starve, we must get the guilty officials of Union Carbide punished. They have killed someone's brother, someone's husband, someone's mother, someone's sister – how many tears can Union Carbide wipe? We will get Union Carbide punished. Till my last breath, I will not leave them."

Kahkashan
"Sometimes I think it is better to die than live with so much pain all the time."

Bhoori Bi
"I had pain in my chest, my back, every joint in my bones ached. It was so bad I could not walk even a small distance and never could have a full nights sleep."

Kundan
"I was just eight days old and still in the hospital when the gas leaked. My father who was with me then, told me, doctors put me in a glass box, but I still got gas in my eyes and through my breath. My father also got hit by the gas."

Mohammed Karim
"In some houses everyone had died so there was no one to break the locks. In one case a 6 month old girl had survived and everybody else (mother, father and siblings) was dead. I broke the locks to that house."

Mangla Ram
When a young doctor lifted his wife's hand to feel her pulse, it was already stiff and cold. The doctor covered her face with the sheet she was wrapped in and walked away.

Balaram Bai
"My wife opened the door and immediately she started coughing, her eyes began crying. She went out worrying about the safety of our nephew in the next neighbourhood and calling out the names of other children. She did not come back."

Mehboob Bi
She mortgaged their house to get money for medicines for her sick husband. He told her not to spend money on him; she replied, ‘How can I not?’

Sunil Kumar
In March 1997 he started "hearing voices in his head" at night. He suffered from sleeplessness and imagined that the voices were those of persons plotting to kill him or cause him harm. These voices came to him even when he shut himself up in a room.

Shahid Noor
Shahid was unable to see because his eyes were swollen, so his uncle called him in front of his mother's dead body and asked him to carry out a death ceremony which a son should carry out for his mother at the time of her death. This was the first time he had realized that his mother had died.

Chhote Khan
Because of the poison in the water all in my family are sick. This is what keeps me worried all the time.

Naval Singh
My wife and children do not keep well; they always feel tired and cannot do any work. Their stomach and heart burns all the time, there is no appetite. They have rashes all over their body and they keep scratching all the time. Because they do not keep well they are not able to go for work, we earn very less. It has become very difficult to carry on.

Mohammed Anwar Hasan Siddique
I have severe backache. My eyes burn a lot. I also suffer from breathlessness. I have to use an inhaler several times in a day.

Mohammed Salim
Two years after i moved in to annu nagar i started falling sick. I had severe pain on my side and had to be hospitalized. i was admitted for three months in Jawahar Lal Nehru Hospital then the doctors referred me to Hamidia Hospital. I worry about my wife who remains sick often.

Shabir Khan
I knew that the water in blue moon colony was poisoned, it tasted very bad the first time I drank a sip. It was terrible but I had to drink it for four or five months. Then I started falling sick, vomiting and stomach ache and dizziness.

Bhaskar Dasgupta
"Piles of dead buffaloes, extremely dusty air, a sense of eerie desolation in some of the lanes where everybody was dead. The lawns in front of the Gandhi Medical College were covered with shrouded bodies. One very poignant scene I will never forget, a child was sitting next to a shroud, pulling on the arm and softly crying out, 'Mother, why aren’t you waking up?'"

Aziza Sultan
"Outside it appeared that a large number of people had passed that way. Lots of shoes and shawls and other clothing were strewn about. White clouds had enveloped everything. Streetlights looked like points of light. Our family got split up."

Deepa Pal
"People who lived closer to the plant moved in with relatives in our neighborhood. I saw people with immensely swollen eyes, which were dripping constantly. They told us of their stampede to escape the gas."

Jabbar Khan
"The government's attitude came as a big shock to me. For a month people did not even get primary treatment. I would say that in one month 8,000 people died because of inadequate medical facilities."

Shakeel
"When Shakeel was born he had a boil like thing on his forehead. In 3-4 months his whole head was covered with boils. His hair used to be stuck with pus. His head was slimy with pus."

Sumeet Ajmani
"My parents have told me numerous times about how fortunate we were that the wind had changed direction before much of the gas reached our house. However, there were many who were not as lucky as us."

The Teenage Testimonies
At least 200,000 children are estimated to have been exposed to the gas, half of them girls. As they approach the age when they should start menstruating, some girls find that they are experiencing three or four cycles a month, others have only one period in three months.

The Orphan Testimonies
The stories of a dozen orphans whose parents were killed by Carbide's gasses.

A Collection of 19 Testimonials
Assembled by the Bhopal Memorial Project at Bard College.

 

Razia Bee
AGE: 40 years AGE AT DISASTER: 26 years NEIGHBORHOOD: Mangalwara, Bhopal

We were sleeping peacefully that night. I got up to find the children vomiting all over. First I wondered whether it was some thing they had for dinner. Then I too started vomiting. Soon all of us, my husband and me carrying the children were running towards Lily Talkies. My three year old daughter Nazma had swelled up so much like she would burst. We took her to Hamidia hospital. We stayed with her at the hospital for 15 days and then the doctors said she would not survive. We were feeling so utterly helpless because there was no doctor around who knew how my baby could be saved. She died on the fifteenth day. My husband Rafique owned a watch repair shop. After the gas he suffered the most in our family. He would need to sit under a fan. His mouth stayed open and he had those violent coughing bouts. Often he would cough blood. He was admitted to Hamidia hospital for three weeks and then sent home. Soon after early one morning at 3 am he started vomiting and it would not stop. So we took him back to Hamidia. After a month of his being in the hospital the docotrs said now take him home we can't do anything to help your husband. I had bitter arguments with the doctors but finally brought my husband home. Then a Red Cross hospital was set up near our house. One month he took treatment there and then the doctor there said these drugs are not doing you any good, you might as well stop taking them. So I took him to the government's Shakir Ali hospital but the treatment there did little good. Though we were supposed to get free medicines the doctor there said if you want to get better medicines you should buy them from the market. One morning the doctor wrote a prescription and I worried all day about where to get Rupees five hundred to but all the medicines. My husband died the same evening at 4 o clock. Meanwhile we had had to sell off the watch repair shop at a very low price. I went to the claim court with my husband's medical papers but the officials there said you have to get the "04 form" filled. They told me to come later in December ('92) But by then the city was aflame with Hindu-Muslim riots. I was not able to receive any compensation for my husband's death nor for my daughter Nazma's. My daughter Salma developed strange symptoms. She would itch all over her body and get round blue marks as big as a rupee coin. I took her to Hamidia then to Shakir Ali where they told me to take her to Indore. Bu then she was in a very bad state. She had high fever and her tear drops were red coloured. Also she complained of her head aching all the time. I took her to the government hospital in Jehangirabad where even after four months of regular treatment there was no improvement in her condition. Then I took her to a private clinic. They told me right in the begining that Salma's treatment will be long and expensive. I had no money left so I brought my daughter back. But then her condition worsened and I went back to the private clinic. At the end of her treatment Salma was only slightly better and I was in debt for Rs 50, 000. Till today we have not been abler to pay back all the money. Finally Salma got treated at the Sambhavna clinic where with Ayurvedic treatment she got much better. I too have been very sick after the gas. I do not remember falling sick before the gas. To keep the home fire going I did all kinds of jobs- sweeping, washing dishes and every kind of hard labour. My vision is blurred, I loose my balance while walking, I get very breathless and get panic attacks. When I tell my problems to the doctors at the government hospitals they say you are just making all these up. None of my children could study. Only my daughter Sazida has passed eigth grade in the government school. The school is supposed to be free but the teachers find ways to get money from the students.

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Raisa Bee
AGE: Died aged 16 AGE AT DISASTER: 4 NEIGHBORHOOD: Teela Jamalpura

She died at 6.45 in the morning of 31st October, 1996 in the TB Hospital. She was four years old when she was severely exposed to Carbide's toxic gases. In the interview her mother gave she recalled "That night my little daughter was vomiting all over the place and soiling her clothes over and over. She was coughing and gasping for breath and crying that her eyes were on fire.. She was very ill for over a week and we thought the worst was over. A few months later her problems worsened and she would get acutely breathless and bring out sputum when she coughed. She continued to have burning sensation in the eyes. She got weaker and weaker and was wheezing all the time. She lost her appetite for food and stayed depressed all the time. Then we spotted streaks of blood in her sputum. We took her to different doctors and hospitals but her condition did not improve. She vomited a lot of blood before she died." The medical records available with her mother show that Raisa was admitted at the JLN Hospital on 7.8.'96 for 20 days with complaints of breathlessness, cough and anxiety attacks. Chest x-ray report dated 30.10.'96 from the TB Hospital mentions "Bilateral infiltration with cavity formation left mid zone".

All three doctors in the assessment panel in the Sambhavna Clinic's Verbal Autopsy project have opined that Raisa's death is attributable to her exposure to Carbide's gases and the injuries caused to her respiratory and neuropsychiatric systems. In their opinions tuberculosis was a complication that arose out of the injury caused to her lungs.

No claim for compensation for Raisa's death has been registered.

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Ramesh
A student and apprentice at a tailor's shop, Ramesh was 12 years old in December 1984 and living in Jai Prakash Nagar.

The day before the gas leaked was a Sunday. My friends and I were relaxing in the evening and then we watched a movie on the television. I must have gone to sleep around 9 p.m. It was cold and I had covered myself with a rug. Sometime in the middle of the night I heard a lot of noise coming from outside. People were shouting "Get up" “Run, run" "gas has leaked". My elder brother Jawahar got up and said " Everyone is running away, we too must run". I opened my eyes and saw that the room was full of white smoke. The moment I removed the rug from my face my eyes started stinging as if someone was burning a lot of dried chilies and every breath was burning my insides. I was scared of opening my eyes. The gas was getting in through my mouth. Through my nose. We got ready to run. All six of us, my brothers and sister came out together with my sister carrying my youngest brother Rajesh in her arms. My father refused to leave and my mother stayed with him. So we left them in the house and ran towards the cremation ground.

After a while my sister who was carrying my little brother got separated. The gas was thick and we couldn't see where they had gone. The four of us left, held on to each other's hand and walked on. While running Mahesh and I fell into a ditch full of dirty water. As we reached the main road we could see a lot of people lying around. We did not know whether they were dead or unconscious. One fellow, Gupta, was sleeping with a rug over him. Mahesh crawled under the rug with him and that fellow made place for the rest of us. But after a while as we could not breathe it got very uncomfortable under the rug. So we got up and started walking towards the bus stand. Near the wine shop we came across some bathrooms which were closed. My brother kicked the door down and all of us got inside. I covered my younger brother Mahesh and Suresh with my coat and put them to sleep. My elder brother kept sitting outside looking out for our parents. I asked him to come in but he was worried about them and would not come in. He started vomiting outside. Some people in the neighborhood gave him water. We were not talking to each other just sitting and worrying about our parents. I did not know that the gas could kill people but while running away I had seen a little child crying beside his mother who was lying beside the road. So all kinds of dreadful thoughts crossed my mind.

Early in the morning we set out for home. My eyes were swollen and my chest was aching. On our way back we saw a lot of dead cattle lying around and a lot of people too. My brother could not walk. So Mahesh and I held both his hands and pulled him along. Nearer home I saw my friend Santosh’s grandfather lying dead. Balmukund, our neighbour was dying and they rushed him to the hospital. My uncles who also live in a basti in Bhopal had heard about the gas leak and came looking for us. They were worried about what they would find. But they found us all alive. As I was going with my uncle to buy jaggery, on the way to the shop I saw a lot of dead bodies of men, women and children lying in front of the Union Carbide factory gate. I was also trying to find our cow and found her in a street coughing. My dog lay dead. Two of my friends Santosh and Rajesh also had died. Then my uncle took all of us to their home which is fifteen kilometers away. We sat under a tree and all the people in the locality came over to look at us. Then people from amongst them arranged to have us taken to the hospital.

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Sajida
AGE: 20 years AGE AT DISASTER: 6 years NEIGHBORHOOD: Near Military Gate, Shahajahanabad

I was in the first grade at the time of the gas disaster. I remember being woken up by people in my family. I remember everyone vomiting and groaning and then joining the crowd of people who were trying to run away from the clouds of poison. Since then my problem of breathlessness has been getting worse, my eye problems are also getting worse and now everything appears blurry. I am also getting more and more weak. I was very keen on studying but I failed my exams in the eigth grade. I was very sick at the time of the examination. I told my teacher that I could not write my exams because of my illness but she refused to take my application for leave of absence.

So I failed and that was the end of my studies. I have never stopped regretting this. When I see other women pursuing their studies I wish I had continued. Since I was a child I wanted to do something important, become someone famous and I still can not accept that none of my wishes will ever come true. Now I spend most of my time doing chores at home and some embroidery work with "zari". My eyes go blurred when I work with "zari".

Its been over 10 years since I have been so sick. I have been admitted to the hospital several times. My elder brother Rayees used to be so breathless, he had to sit through the whole night. His lungs were badly damaged. He died four years back. He died in the hospital. I think of him often and and the one thing I feel really bad about is that I was not there by his side when he died. My father owned a truck and three auto-rickshaws. He sold them one by one to pay for Rayees' medical bills. Now my father rents an autorickshaw for the day and our family survives on what he makes.

For the last one month he has been sick in bed and I am taking care of household expenses through my "zari" work. My mother Aneesa too is sick.She is breathless has chest pain and pain in the stomach and she has swelling in her limbs. She has a fever that never leaves her.

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Reshma
AGE: 16 years AGE AT DISASTER: 2 years NEIGHBORHOOD: Arif Nagar

I was two years old at the time of the disaster. Most of what I know about it is from what my mother has told me. We used to live in Quazi Camp then. My mother tells me, when the gas struck her she thought some warehouse that stored chillies, had caught fire. The room we were sleeping got full of gas. All of us my mother , father my little brother Mubeen who was only eight months old and me all were coughing and vomiting and we could not open our eyes. My mother threw away the covers because she was feeling so hot. Outside people were shouting "Run Run" and their was the noise of lots and lots of people running past our door. My mother wanted all of us to join the crowd that was running away towards the city. But my father stopped her, he said if we die, we all die together. So my mother held on to Mubeen and me and sat next to the open door thinking the wind will carry out the gas. Instead more gas got in . My mother says her throat got so choked she could not even cry out and groan. Father was huddled in one corner. Mubeen's stomach had swollen like it would burst. In the morning our uncle took us to the hospital and for eight days I had a bandage over my eyes. That's what my mother tells me. She says next morning the beds, clothes, walls and every thing else in the house was covered with an oily film.

I study in 10th standard at the Government Girls School. I like maths best because it makes me think, use my head. Other subjects one can pass just by cramming but not maths.I want to be a lawyer when I grow up and I hope my parents don't get me married before I become one. When I am doing maths or reading a book I have to stop every few minutes because I my eyes begin to hurt and they water. As far as I remember I have always had pain and burning in my eyes. Some times I get black outs. Also some times like even when I am walking, all of a sudden I feel panicky. Breathing becomes difficult and there is a pounding in my heart. I have to sit down. I have very painful periods. My mother has to give me hot fomentation. Even with that the pain gets unbearable. I dread my periods.

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Hajra Bi
AGE: 35 years AGE AT DISASTER: 21 years NEIGHBORHOOD: Ayub Nagar

I still remember the night the gas leaked. I was sleeping with my three children Nazma, Shareef and Iqbal beside me. I woke up with a panic because it felt like some one was choking me. The room was filled with pungent smoke. I thought some one was burning chillies to ward off the evil eye. The smoke got heavier and heavier. My husband and children too got up and started coughing. The children were groaning that they could not bear it. So we carried the children in our arms and joined the surging crowd outside, all trying to get away. People were running blindly. Many were falling down. By then my eyes had become so swollen that I could hardly open them. I had my dupatta covering my eyes. I was carrying four year old Nazma and my husband was carrying Shareef who was six and Iqbal who was two years old. I had gone a little distance when Nazma started making gurgling and choking sounds. I pried my eye lids open and saw there was froth coming out of her mouth. I looked around but could not find my husband. So I went inside the nearest house I could spot and asked for some water for Nazma to drink. At around 2 in the morning my sister's husband who was on duty at the Union Carbide factory came looking for us. He too was in a bad condition. He told me not to stay in the house because the gas was still leaking and it was getting thicker and thicker inside the house. But I could not go anywhere so I spent the night with the family. In the morning my eldest brother came to fetch me. He took me to the dispensary at the Carbide factory. There they put some drops in my eyes, that's all. My husband who had been looking for me with the children also reached my brother's place. After four days we went back to our own home. The children could not keep any food in, they were vomiting all the time. My eldest son Shareef died after three months. We tried everything to save his life. Took him to different doctors, spent a lot of money but he didn't survive. Three months after that I gave birth to a son. We named him Yosouf. He was born sickly and had strange looking yellow coloured eruptions on his neck. When he was about a year old, I was still breast feeding him, he died in his sleep. Another daughter was born to me - Shahbano. She too was sick all the time, we lost her too. My son Iqbal is not growing properly, he is 16 years old now but looks like he is 10 or 12. My husband used to carry cement bags before the gas, but he hasn't been able to work. Both of us have this burning in the chest. We went to different private clinics as long as our savings lasted. Doctors charged 50 to 100 rupees for every visit. When we had no money left we had to go the government hospitals. But visiting government hospitals was so tiring and it seemed like a waste of time. The doctors there would write down the medicines we were supposed to take before we even finished telling them about our problems. The tablets they gave me made me feel worse.

In my family I am the only one to get any compensation. I got Rs 15,000/-. We spent much more than that on our treatment. I sold off all my jewellery when my son got admitted to the hospital. Also we borrowed a lot of money for our treatment. When I told the judge about our children who died he said I had to get documentary evidence.

All of us in the family remain sick. My husband has spells of unconsciousness. He has also become very irritable and some times gets violent. We could not send our children to school because there was no money. My daughter was so keen to go to school. I worry myself all the time - about my husband, my son's health, my daughter's marriage.

I am feeling much better since I have started taking treatment at Sambhavna. But it is a long walk and some times I can not make it on the appointed day.

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Shahabuddin
AGE: 38 years AGE AT DISASTER: 24 years NEIGHBORHOOD: Quazi Camp

I used to work as a load carrier before the gas. After I got exposed, for two years I was so breathless I could not do any work. Also I would get these sudden panic attacks out of nowhere. I had itching on my whole body and when I scratched I got eruptions all over.

About a month back I got this severe pain in my left leg. There would be a dull pain starting from my waist down till my foot. It would get intense all of a sudden with the pain traveling up and down the back of my leg. There was no way I could work, I could not even walk. Even going to the toilet was difficult. For five nights in a row I could not sleep properly. The pain kept me awake. I took all kinds of pills but nothing worked. Then the doctor at the Sambhavna Clinic told me to take Panchakarma therapy. It has been 20 days since I have been taking this treatment and am feeling much better. I can walk with ease though there is still slight pain. I have also started going to work since the last five days. I am not taking any medicines.

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Jewan Shinde
AGE: 46 years AGE AT DISASTER: 32 years NEIGHBORHOOD: Teela Jamalpura

I used to be an autorickshaw driver and around 12.30a.m on the night of the disaster I was driving through Bharat Talkies going towards home. I suddenly started feeling really hot. At that time I could not see any signs of the gas or the turmoil of afterwards. I got home and went to sleep not thinking anything more. Around 2.30a.m I suddenly awoke to find that my quilt was on the floor despite it being a winters night. Outside there was screaming and shouting of 'bhago, yaha se bhago'. ("Run, run away from here".) There used to be a food inspector who lived opposite our house and I could hear his voice outside. From inside the house I shouted asking him what was going on. He shouted back that gas had leaked from Carbide and that I should not open the door. By this time smoke had started seeping through from under the door. That was when the coughing started. I, my wife and my two sons (aged 4 & 6 at that time) felt as if we were choking.

It felt like someone was burning chillies. I got really scared and out of fear I opened the door. Outside everyone was running, screaming, nothing could be seen - the thick fog hung everywhere. It was clear that we were being poisoned - the stench of rotting potatoes was strong. I took my family to the landlords house who stayed one door away. The gas filled their house also. 14 people, my family and my landlord's family then all climbed into my autorickshaw and I started going towards new market. I, by mistake took the wrong road - instead of going towards the cantonement, I headed through Qazi Camp. Everywhere there were people running, vomiting, men and women wearing almost nothing. The cloud still hung thick. Many people tried stopping the auto and begged for space, but what could I do? Driving through Qazi camp I started to feel faint and I thought I would lose consciousness. My landlords wife, Rama Devi kept saying 'himat rakho, is gadi ko bahar nikalna hai'. ("Have courage, we've got to get this vehicle out of here".)

Terror had filled me from within. Street lamps looked as if they were dim candles burning. Peoples screams and shouts dulled by the thickness of the gas fog. By the time we made it to Kamla Park it seemed the gas was over. I then took my family to South T.T Nagar where someone known to Rama Devi lived.

I then tied a wet muffler over my mouth and went back into the city to find out what had happened. If I had known how poisonous the gas was then I would not have gone. I can not tell you what state people were in. Almost undressed. I saw an old woman at the government offices in a sari blouse and shorts just sitting. Bodies strewed the streets.

At around 4a.m a man stopped me and asked me to take him to the station. I told him that all trains had stopped. But he insisted. We got to the station. Five corpses lay on Platform five. The man saw this and ran.

All night I roamed in my auto. Picking up as many people as I could, those who fell against my auto and dropped them wherever I could. The roads were full of people. The stampede of the dead and living. Police vans were roaming blaring 'evacuation.' I saw a dead buffalo, twice the usual size. Its tail stuck straight up into the air.

At around 6 a.m. I madeit back to my house in Teela Jamalpura. The whole colony was desolate, apart from a few people who had not run. Most of them were vomiting outside their own homes. I opened the door of my house and thick gas started coming out. I left the door open and ran again.

I made it back to South T.T Nagar where my family was. By the time I got home my eyes were swollen and were red like tomatoes. By 10.30 that morning I took my wife and children and went back home. I will never forget what I have seen.

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Sharda Vishwakarma
AGE: 24 years AGE AT DISASTER: 10 years NEIGHBORHOOD: Teela Jamalpura

I was ten years old when the gas leaked. In our neighbourhood there was a house where snakes had built their nest. The people in the house used to burn chillies to drive away the snakes. On the night of the gas when all of us woke up coughing and gasping for breath, the first thought that came to our mind was that it was the snake cure gone awry. We opened the door and saw a great number of people all rushing past. Soon we came to know that it was gas coming from Union Carbide's factory. My father said " Lets not run away, because we will surely get separated from each other in this crowd and darkness. If we have to die at least let us die together". All of us were coughing and vomiting and it was getting more and more unbearable. My grandparents had come for a visit, they too were in a miserable state. We opened the door after about four hours. In the morning we went to a tent that had been set up on the roadside and got some medicines from there - eye drops and pills. But these were of no use. My four year old sister Asha died three days after the gas.

My father used to work in a sweet shop making sweets. Ever since the gas he can hardly work. There are times when he thrashes about all night like a fish out of water. Most days he stays in bed. My grandfather used to get very breathless and cough a lot. he suffered this for four years till he died.

I got married when I was seventeen. My husband used to live in the same neighbourhood. He is a carpenter but can work for hardly fifteen days in a month. He has cough, pain in the chest and can not see properly. He was not given any compensation because he could not present his medical records. During the Hindu-Muslim riots of 1992 his parents' house caught fire and all the papers got burnt. My parents could not get any compensation for the death of my sister and grandfather. The judge asked for papers, but who was thinking of papers three days after the disaster. The officials said that my grandfather did not live in Bhopal and we had to provide documents to show that he was with us on the night of the disaster.

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Jubeda Bi
AGE: 48 years AGE AT DISASTER: 34 years NEIGHBORHOOD: Sayeed Nagar

On the night of the disaster I had come with my husband and children to join a feast at my brother's place at Quazi Camp. We were coughing badly and I thought we will die. Then we found an auto rickshaw and the driver took us to Jehangirabad. We coughed and vomited all the way and our clothes were soiled. My daughter Shabana was four years old and she almost never stopped coughing since that night. She died after seven years. She used to get breathless and had pain in her stomach. No medicine worked. We spent so much money on the treatment of my daughter and husband there was hardly any left for other expenses. My husband too died with similar problems. My son Mehfooz Khan, thank the Lord, is physically okay. But something has happened inside his head. He is sixteen now but does not do any thing just sits in one place all day like he is lost somewhere. My other son Majid was one year old at the time of the gas. He has stomach problems all year round. A daughter, Rehana was born to me four years after the gas but strangely she has similar problems like us. She has fever all the time and her limbs get stiff and has spells of vomiting.

The gas has changed our lives in so many ways. After my husband's death I started working as a house maid. I get only 100 rupees a month but they give me food too. Earlier we would have new clothes more than once a year, now we get to wear new clothes once in two-three years. The children used to go to private schools buying new books every year. Now my son goes to a government school and there is no money to buy books.

I am really tired of taking medicines. Every time I take some pills in my hand I get in to a panic that I have to put them in my mouth. Even otherwise I get sudden panic attacks. My knees hurt a lot and my back aches all the time. I went to the government hospital and took treatment for a month there. But it didn't do me any good. Then my sister told me to go to Sambhavna Clinic. At Sambhavna I was treated with massage therapy. Now I can walk freely, though I am yet to be able to lift any weight. I am till under treatment and am hopeful that I will get alright without having to take any medicines.

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Zubeda Bi
AGE: 60 years (she thinks) AGE AT DISASTER: About 46 years NEIGHBORHOOD: Qazi Camp

We had had a normal evening at home. I, my four daughter-in laws, my five sons and my daughter. We'd eaten and then gone to sleep. I was the one who woke first. I lay alone in my room and started getting irritated that maybe my daughter-in-laws were burning chillies on the stove. I started shouted and swearing at them. I went to the kitchen where I saw the stove was cold. By this time all my sons and daughter-in-laws had been woken up by my shouting. Smoke started to fill everywhere. Outside people were running and shouting 'bhago, bhago'. ("Run, run".) We found out from people around that there had been a leak from carbide. We couldn't see anything, we were coughing and kept having loose motions. My grandson was one years old then. I put him on my chest to protect him as much as possible. But his face swelled to twice its size, his eyes were puffed tight. We were really scared. My daughter-in-law was pregnant then. I could not tell her how deformed her son had become. We thought we were going to die. I kept praying 'Allah miah hame bacha lijiye, Allah miah hame bacha lijiye.' ("Dear God, please save us, dear Lord, please save us.")

Pretty soon I felt weak and within half an hour I began to pass out. My daughter-in-laws put water on me and tried to get me dressed. They managed to put me in a petticoat. By now, there was so much smoke in the house that we couldn't even see the pots.

Two of my sons had gone to see what had happened. The smaller one was sent back with a message that we should go towards DIG bungalow because there was no gas there. My eyes were now so swollen that I couldn't see out of them. So about an hour after I first felt the gas, we left the house, my daughter-in-laws held me by the hands. The streets were full of corpses. The skins of people were full of blisters. Nobody could be recognised.

We made it to DIG bungalow and then went and sat outside the factory. Many people were there in the same state that we were in. We all just thought of saving ourselves. We stayed there all night and in the morning some doctors came and gave us some red medicine. The military trucks came and took us to 'bara sau pachas' ("1250") to the camp.

My daughter who lived near the station sat outside her house with her 20 day old son. She sat there not moving whilst someone came and stole her silver anklet. My son died one month later.

Look at the state of me now. I can't do anything. There has been so much sickness from the gas. I also no longer wear saris. A relative of mine who was wearing a sari got thrown onto a pyre. She was just unconscious. She woke up and ran. Since then no woman in my family wears a sari. We figure that if something else happens to us we should at least be sent off in the proper way (Zubeda Bi is muslim and would wish to be buried). Otherwise people might think we were Hindus and cremate us.

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Bano Bi
Bano Bi was a 35 year old housewife living in Chhawani, Managlwara the night of the gas disaster.

The night the gas leaked, I was sewing clothes sitting next to the door. It was around midnight. The children's father had just returned from a poetry concert. He came in and asked me, "what are you burning that makes me choke?" And then it became quite unbearable. The children sleeping inside began to cough. I spread a mat outside and made the children sit on it. Outside we started coughing even more violently and became breathless. Then our landlord and my husband went out to see what was happening. They found out that some gas had leaked. Outside there were people shouting, "Run, run, run for your lives."

We left our door open and began to run. We reached the Bharat Talkies crossing where my husband jumped into a truck full of people going to Raisen and I jumped into one going towards Obaidullahganj. It was early morning when we reached Obaidullahganj. The calls for the morning prayers were on. As we got down, there were people asking us to get medicines put on our eyes and to get injections. Some people came and said they made tea for us and we could have tea and need not pay any money.

Meanwhile, some doctors came there. They said the people who are seriously ill had to be taken to the hospital. Two doctors came to me and said that I had to be taken to the hospital. I told my children to come with me to the hospital and bade them to stay at the hospital gate till I came out of the hospital. I was kept inside for a long time and the children were getting worried. Then Bhairon Singh, a Hindu who used to work with my husband, spotted the children. He too had run away with his family and had come to the hospital for treatment. The children told him that I was in the hospital since morning and described to him the kind of clothes I was wearing.

Bhairon Singh went in to the hospital and found me among the piles of the dead. He then put me on a bench and ran around to get me oxygen. The doctors would put the oxygen mask on me for two minutes and then pass it on to someone else who was in as much agony as I was. The oxygen made me feel a little better. The children were crying for their father so Bhairon told them that he was admitted to a hospital in Raisen. When I was being brought back to Bhopal on a truck, we heard people saying that the gas tank has burst again. So we came back and went beyond Obaidullahganj to Budhni, where I was in the hospital for three days.

I did not have even a five paisa coin on me. Bhairon Singh spent his money on our food. He even hired a taxi to take me back to Bhopal to my brother's place. My husband also had come back by then. He was in a terrible condition. His body would get stiff and he had difficulty in breathing. At times, we would give up hopes of his survival. My brother took him to a hospital. I said that I would stay at the hospital to look after my husband. I still had a bandage over my eyes. When the doctors at the hospital saw me, they said "why don't you get admitted yourself, you are in such a bad state." I told them that I was all right. I was so absorbed with the sufferings of my children and my husband that I wasn't aware of my own condition. But the doctors got me admitted and since there were no empty beds, I shared the same bed with my husband in the hospital. We were in that hospital for one and a half months.

After coming back from the hospital, my husband was in such a state that he would rarely stay at home for more than two days. He used to be in the Jawaharlal Nehru Hospital most of the time. Apart from all the medicines that he used to take at the hospital, he got medicines like Deriphylline and Decadron from the store. He remained in that condition after the gas disaster. I used to take him to the hospital and when I went for the Sangathan meetings, the children took him to the hospital. He was later admitted to the MIC ward and he never came back from there. He died in the MIC ward.

My husband used to carry sacks of grain at the warehouse. He used to load and unload railway wagons. After the gas, he could not do any work. Sometimes, his friends used to take him with them and he used to just sit there. His friends gave him 5-10 rupees and we survived on that.

We were in a helpless situation. I had no job and the children were too young to work. We survived on help from our neighbors and other people in the community. My husband had severe breathing problems and he used to get into bouts of coughing. When he became weak, he had fever all the time. He was always treated for gas related problems. He was never treated for tuberculosis. And yet, in his post-mortem report, they mentioned that he died due to tuberculosis. He was medically examined for compensation but they never told us in which category he was put. And now they tell me that his death was not due to gas exposure, that I can not get the relief of Rs.10,000 which is given to the relatives of the dead.

I have pain in my chest and I go breathless when I walk. The doctors told me that I need to be operated on for ulcers in my stomach. They told me it would cost Rs.10,000. I do not have so much money. All the jewelry that I had has been sold. I have not paid the landlord for the last six years and he harasses me. How can I go for the operation? Also, I am afraid that if I die during the operation, there would be no one to look after my children.

I believe that even if we have to starve, we must get the guilty officials of Union Carbide punished. They have killed someone's brother, someone's husband, someone's mother, someone's sister – how many tears can Union Carbide wipe? We will get Union Carbide punished. Till my last breath, I will not leave them.

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Kahkashan
AGE: 20 years AGE AT DISASTER: 6 years NEIGHBORHOOD: Shobharam Ki Bawdi

I do embroidery work with my three sisters Shabana, Paribano and Abida. We bring jobs home. Our eldest sister Farida used to work with us too. She died in '93. She remained ill ever since the gas, she used to cough a lot and complain there was burning in her chest and pain all over her body. My father too is very ill. He is a tailor but he can hardly work. Last week he fainted while at the sewing machine. We had to rush him to the hospital. One of my brother sells vegetables and one is a tailor. My brother Afaq has mental problems, he gets irritable at the slightest thing and some times becomes violent. We took him to the hospital several times but he was not getting any better. They say we should take him to private clinics but we don't have money for that.

My eyes burn a lot and I can't see properly. There is burning in my chest and pain too. Sometimes I think it is better to die than live with so much pain all the time. A year after the disaster, I was seven then, I fainted in the middle of the road and a motorcycle went over my head. But the army man who was riding the motorcycle was a good man. He took care of my treatment. I was unconscious for two months. My head still hurts at times. I also had a back problem. For a long time I could not do any work, couldn't even walk some distance. When the pain was too much to bear my mother used to heat a brick and place it on my back, that and some light massage would ease the pain for a while. She also took me to the hospital. I had to take a handful of medicines and an injection every day. The pain would be manageable as long as I took all these medicines and if I stopped the pain would come back. Then one of my aunts told me about the Sambhavna Clinic. The doctor at Sambhavna told me to go for massage therapy. I am still on massage therapy and most of the pain is gone. I can now walk freely and am able to work. I don't have to take any medicines.

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Bhoori Bi
AGE: 50 years AGE AT DISASTER: 36 years NEIGHBORHOOD: Teela Jamalpura

After the gas I had aches all over my body. I had pain in my chest, my back, every joint in my bones ached. It was so bad I could not walk even a small distance and never could have a full nights sleep. I went to so many private clinics and government hospitals. I can't even remember all the places I went for treatment. Most places, the medicines made no difference, in some they worked as long as I took them. Then my neighbour who was taking treatment at Sambhavna Clinic told me to give this clinic a try. Here they told me to go for massage therapy. After a weeks massage I felt so much better. Then they told me to learn and practice yoga. I am now doing various asanas and pranayama too. Now I am able to move freely and for the first time in many years I am enjoying sound sleep. Once I finish learning yoga here I will continue with regular practice at home.

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Kundan
AGE: 14 years AGE AT DISASTER: 8 days NEIGHBORHOOD: Jai Prakash Nagar

I was just eight days old and still in the hospital when the gas leaked. My father who was with me then, told me, doctors put me in a glass box, but I still got gas in my eyes and through my breath. My father also got hit by the gas. My mother and elder sister and brother were at home. They did not run away, all night they stayed under a thick quilt. My mother went out to see what the commotion was all about and she got quite badly affected. She coughs all the time and gets fever often. Her body aches and she has pain in her hands and legs. My father has pain in his stomach. After the gas I they kept me in the hospital for about 15 days then all of us went to our village.

I study in fifth grade. Early this year I had gone to my grandmothers place. We had gone for two months but then my uncle broke his leg in an accident so we had to stay longer. When I came back they won't take me back at school. I liked going to school. I used to study Science, Hindi, Social Science and English. Most of all I liked studying science because you learn about how the body works and how things work. When I grow up I want to become a science teacher or a doctor. Most of all I want to become a good man.

I like playing cricket. I think the Indian team is the best in the world and Sachin Tendulkar is the very best. Azharuddin and, Nayan Mongia and Saurav Ganguly are pretty good too. When I play cricket I cant make many runs because I get breathless when I run and my chest hurts. I would like to watch cricket on TV but I cant because my eyes hurt and get filled with tears when I watch TV. My eyes hurt when I read. My friends too have all kinds of health problems. I have many friends but there are about ten with whom I am closest.

We live right across the Carbide factory. So many people in our community are sick. So many have died. And people are still dying after they have been sick for a long time. People cant breathe properly, they often have fever, aches and pain in their stomach. Men and women have become weak. Lot of people can not go to work.

I do not know who is the owner of the factory. One of my neighbours told me they used to make poisons to kill insects in the factory. I think nobody should make poisons. Why kill insects, or rats or any other living thing. They have their life and we have our own. Why kill? The poisons from the factory have come into our drinking water wells. There is poison all around.

Some people in my neighbourhood remind me that I stayed alive even though I was so small while so many people died. They make it sound like I brought on all this on the people. That makes me really sad.

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Mohammed Karim
A Truck Driver Who Worked to Dispose of Bodies

I used to drive a truck to dispose of dirt and waste. My truck was also a special truck - I used to pick up unclaimed dead bodies from the mortuary, I was used to doing it. That night (3rd December 1984) I put in thousands of bodies that we dumped - in one grave we would put 5-6 bodies, and we burnt piles and piles with logs. Many bodies were burnt unindentified - Muslims were burnt and Hindus were buried.

They (the govt.) said 'leave your wives and children in your houses and go on duty'. We used to be on duty till 12:00 at night and after that the military trucks used to come and dump the bodies in the Narmada
river. This went on for three to four days. Even on the 16th (of December 1984) we had to come back again. They gave us R500 for this but then they took it back from our wages.

We would fit 120 bodies in one truck and this we would fill and empty five times a day. There were eight trucks on duty (so that is 4,800 bodies a day). It carried on for exactly the same intensity for three to four days, and after 12:00 am the military took over.

We took a bulldozer and dug pits to bury all the animals. Some people were picking up bodies and some animals. 50 - 60 drivers were all working that day (3rd December). We picked up the bodies with our own hands. Every time we picked one up it gave out gas. The bodies had all turned blue, and had froth oozing from their mouths.

In some houses everyone had died so there was no one to break the locks. In one case a 6 month old girl had survived and everybody else (mother, father and siblings) was dead. I broke the locks to that house.

At least 15 - 20,000 people died in those first few days. What they said in the papers was absolutely wrong. What could I have done? I was a government servant. What the government said was absolutely wrong but what could I do?

Those who have survived are like the living dead. My lungs have become useless: till today I'm being looked after by Hamidia hospital. Ever since I got affected I get vertigo - I would have to stop my truck because I get vertigo if I drive. My hands and feet don't work, I can't see well. The last two to three years I've gotten much worse.

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Mangla Ram
As told in Sunday Magazine, Calcutta, India 16-22 December, 1984

It was a sight that Mangla Ram will never forget. An entire settlement was scampering out of their homes running southwest, towards the city centre without really knowinq where to go or what to do. Many collapsed on the way, some for ever. Children vomited blood. Pregnant women stumbled and tell on the ground crying in pain and bleeding profusely. With the grey clouds of death chasing them their fear turned into panic. Relatives did not wait to pick up the bodies of those they loved and were alive only moments ago. Children got separated from their parents, husbands from their wives and brothers from their sisters, in the mad rush to run away from the clouds. Many were trampled to death. As a terrified and sick populace moved forward, more people--the residents of neighboring Chola Road, Tilla Jampaipura, Sindhi Colony, Railway Colony and Chandbad settlements--joined them. The resourceful and the affluent had already fled in whatever transport they could manage to secure. Only the poor were left behind…

[W]hen he arrived at the hospital it was 2:3 0 a.m. By then the hospital had received more people than it could accommodate. All or most of them were in a critical condition gasping for breath. As Mangla Ram placed his wife on the steps at the entrance of the hospital she hardly moved'. . . [Wlhen a young doctor lifted his wife's hand to feel her pulse, it was already stiff and cold. The doctor covered her face with the sheet she was wrapped in and walked away.

Down the corridor so many corpses lay one next to the other that Mangla Ram even forgot to weep.

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Balaram Bai
As told in the September, 2004 issue of '777'

On THAT NIGHT my wife was woken up by a commotion outside. She opened the door of our jhuggi [a wretched hut] and immediately she started coughing, her eyes began crying. She went out worrying about the safety of our nephew in the next neighbourhood [which was also in the line of the gas plume] and calling out the names of other children. She did not come back.

I ran away taking our daughter with me and when we got back to our jhuggi in the morning Maya wasn't there. I was in a bad state myself and was admitted to a hospital. Our relatives looked for Maya and finally found her after 15 days at the Hamidia hospital. We brought her home. She had a lot of pain, but her worst problem was breathlessness, she couldn't breathe after walking just a few steps and she coughed a lot.

Her illness worsened from '86, she started blacking out. She took treatment from the government's hospital for gas victims near DIG Bangla crossing. She gave birth to two boys and two girls after the disaster but they were all weak, none of the babies survived beyond three months.

In 1988 she found to have pulmonary tuberculosis and admitted to the TB hospital for 77 days. Later on she had to be admitted to the DIG Bangla hospital and other government hospitals several times. By then it was 1990. I spent quite a bit of money, all I could find, on treatment at the hospitals but nothing helped.

By 1997 her condition had grown much worse. She started taking treatment from Sambhavna. At first she was doing well but after two years her condition took a bad turn. She began coughing blood and next started having problems urinating.

We had to admit her again to hospital. Sambhavna people helped us get her a bed in the Hamidia hospital. Her body had swollen all over, her chest was hard as stone. On her last day our son Dinesh was in the hospital with her. He came home and told me, "Papa, mama died in her sleep." From THAT NIGHT Maya lived sixteen years in pain. She died on 10th June, 2000. She was 55 years old.

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Mehboob Bi
Narrated by Farah Edwards, a Bhopali woman who met her husband Tim when he cycled from Brighton to Bhopal to raise funds for the Bhopal Medical Appeal.

I CALL HER MY ADOPTED MOTHER, she says I am her daughter and that I’ll be there for her whenever she needs me. I just hope I will be, but these days I’m far away in England & I can’t stop worrying about her.

I first met Mehboob Bi when Tim and I were filming with the People’s Tribunal – this is when she lived in her old house, it was a lot better than the house she lives in now, but the moneylenders took it.

She had mortgaged it to get money for medicines for her sick husband, Chand Miya. He told her not to spend money oh him, she replied, ‘How can I not?’

Now she has moved to a corner of Qazi Camp to a house without a roof. In the monsoon the rain comes right in. The house is beside the stinking naala (an open sewage ditch). It was the only place she could find. I went to see the Chief Minister to ask him for some money for a new roof. He gave me 500 rupees, so I just spat in the earth outside his house. After this Raghu Rai the photographer and some others paid for a new roof.

Mehboob Bi, she has the most wonderful presence, looks straight into your eyes like she knows the truth.

The film cameraman was being an asshole and Mehboob Bi began to cry. I went and sat next to her and hugged her and cried with her.

She had just lost Chand, she was emotionally raw. You could see the pain and feel it in her. Tim and I then took a French journalist to her house. In the one room where everyone slept there was a goat tied to the steel bed. When he offered her money she refused to take it, so he left it under her pillow.

Mehboob Bi was married to Chand Miya. She did not belong to Bhopal. When she arrived here life was really easy as Chand Miya was working for Union Carbide.

‘We were so happy. We used to be well off, but my Kismet was written in Bhopal.’ Even today when she speaks of Chand tears roll from her eyes. She is so deeply wounded, so hurt. The gas has taken everything.

From the first time I saw her to the time when I left for England her face has weathered.

Her daughter, the youngest one was so beautiful and wild, she looked a lot like her mother in the picture that Mehboob Bi shows so proudly of her and her husband.

She showed us an album of her pictures from before her marriage. She was stunning, dressed in short kurtas with big goggles, two plaits and curls plastered to the sides of her cheeks. One of her daughters said ‘Ammi looks like Mala Sinha.’ ‘No,’ said the other one, ‘she’s like Sadhna.’ (Both Indian filmstars.)

‘Chal hat pagli ladki’. Go on with you silly girl. That is what she said to her daughter with a coy smile.

When her daughters were small and there was no food Mehboob Bi used to give them water at night to fill their stomachs. ‘Afterwards I came to know that in many places the wells have been poisoned by that factory, the same cursed place that tried to kill us all with gas.’

So many years after the disaster Mehboob Bi suffers from serious head aches, often faints and gets very high temperatures for which there is no clear or obvious cause.

‘I am waiting, daughter,’ she tells me. ‘I am just waiting to go. I’m so tired, but who will look after these children then? The debt collectors will tear them apart, so the least I can do is spare them from debt before I go.

‘My husband warned me how dangerous the chemicals were. If by mistake you put your hand into them your hand would dissolve.

‘The day after the tragedy when we came back home our utensils were covered with a green coating. Chand Miya did not let us come in to the house he cleaned everything up, washed every corner of the house before he let us come in.

‘The days just before the disaster were the last few days I saw him happy. Our miseries began on that night. All of us had breathed the gas, but he most of all. When he got really ill and could no longer work . . . I . . . we ran short of money and I started work for the first time. He apologised to me for putting me through this.

‘I said jaan hai to jahaan hai, if we have life we have the world.

He often told me not to spend the money on him and his illness.

“I will die,” he said, “don’t waste your money on me.”

‘And he did. He left me alone.’

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Sunil Kumar
Age: 29 years
Address: A-769, Housing Board Colony, Karond, Bhopal

Sunil was 13 years old at the time of the disaster in Bhopal. Along with other members of the family he ran in panic after they were surrounded by the poisonous cloud in the middle of the night. He experienced burning sensation in the eyes and chest and cough. He got separated from his family members ran for about 2 kms. and got on to a bus going away from Bhopal . He vomited in the bus. About 70 kms. from Bhopal he got down at Hoshangabad. He lost consciousness there and was taken to the district hospital. He was admitted in to the hospital for one week during which his main complaints were breathlessness, cough and burning sensation in the eyes. He returned to Bhopal to find that both his parents, 3 sisters and 2 brothers had died due to the poison gases. His younger siblings, sister aged 10 and brother aged 2 and half were the only living members of his family. Since then he continues to suffer from breathlessness, tearing in the eyes [lacrymation], breathlessness on exertion, amnesia and nightmares still today, particularly in winter.

In March 1997 he started "hearing voices in his head" at night. He suffered from sleeplessness and imagined that the voices were those of persons plotting to kill him or cause him harm. These voices came to him even when he shut himself up in a room.

By June 1997 his condition had aggravated. He started hearing voices in the daytime too. His insomnia became worse. He started running away from home to go to forests and open spaces. Even there the voices chased him. In late 1998 he felt that his libido was diminishing. He lost interest in sex and was not able to get a full erection.

In May 1998 he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and prescribed drugs. According to him 75% of his problems are in control as long as he is under medication but soon as he stops taking them, his problems recur.

His current problems [whose severity depends on whether he is under medication or not] include: "hearing voices", insomnia, depression, suicidal thoughts [about once in a month], dis-attachment from immediate surroundings, tendency to stay lying in bed for as long as possible, need to avoid crowds and keep himself in a closed room. He is always afraid that people around him are trying to cause harm to him and that some one might kill him. When his condition gets worse he is suspicious of everybody around him including relatives and friends. There is no loss of appetite and except for an involuntary twitch in his left arm [which he says started around the same time as the beginning of his mental health problems] and seasonal aggravation of exposure related symptoms, he has no other health problems.

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Shahid Noor
Age 30
Address: House 59, Union Carbide Road, Risaladar Colony, Chola, Bhopal, MP

Shahid was 8 and a half years old at the time of the disaster. He lost his father, mother and one younger brother in the disaster’s aftermath. Shahid's father used to work for Food Corporation of India, which was a well-paid job, and also had his own business. Shahid's father, Mohmammed Shakib, took young Shahid, his daughter, father and sister to get treatment for their eyes and breathing problems at JP Hospital. At that time Shahid's younger brother Wahid, his mother Shana Bee, and infant brother Badsha were also missing. They all were separated on night of 2nd Dec when they were all running to escape the gas. After they returned from the hospital they found Wahid (age 7) was back in the house. Someone had dropped him off. Shahid's father took all the family members back to his village on 3rd Dec afternoon in a maruti van. The condition of Shahid’s father deteriorated as soon as they had reached the village. Others were also having problems with their lungs and were unable to breathe. All of them were taken to taken to Hoshangabad district hospital. When they reached Hoshangabad hospital which is about 75km from Bhopal, there was no room to admit anyone. They were all full with people suffering from the effects of MIC. Except Shahid's father everyone was released from the hospital within half hour with some medication. Shahid and his family returned from the hospital. Shahid was unable to see because his eyes were swollen, so his uncle called him in front of his mother's dead body and asked him to carry out a death ceremony which a son should carry out for his mother at the time of her death. During the ceremony the son thanks his mother for the nurturing she provided to him as a young infant. This was the first time he had realized that his mother had died. That same night he also found out that his father had also died because he saw the dead body when it was brought to his house in village. Shahid stayed with his family in the village for 10-15 days and on the 8th days he found out that his younger brother, Badsha, had also died.

Until 1992 Shahid and his two remaining siblings lived with their grandmother, but left when they learned that she considered them a burden. They have fended for themselves since they were teenagers, living on their compensation money. They put themselves through high school.

The three children got compensation of three hundred thousand rupees. Shahid and Wahid each got 66 thousand rupees and Nilofer got 33 thousand. The rest was paid to their grandmothers.

All the money that Shahid got was spent long ago on medicines to try and cope with his personal injuries. He suffers from breathlessness, weakness, numbness in hands and legs, periodic illness, and aches.

Shahid has always been active in the fight against Union Carbide. In the beginning he was part of the group called "children against Carbide", which consisted of all the children who had lost their parents on the night of the disaster. In 1993 Shahid organized 27 orphaned kids and started demanding employment from the government. In 1994 their demands were accepted by Digvijay Singh government, but even now nothing has been done for them except fake promises. The group of orphans that Shahid organized is now called Bhopal Ki Awaaz (Voice of Bhopal). In 2004, 4 members Bhopal Ki Awaaz with the help of ICJB started their own source of income generation project called Chirag. They rent out solar lanterns to the vegetable, fruit hawkers and fish stalls for the evening. At the end of the evening they collect a rent of Rs 8 for the day. They have made more than Rs 60,000 in revenues and have 33 running lanterns. He is also an active member of the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.

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Chhote Khan
AGE: 65 years; March to Delhi (2006) participant

The first demonstration I went to was on December 7, 1984. I went from rajgarh colony. There were 50 people from my basti with us. We went with Aybu bhai who was a bjp leader and anees bhai who was the local congress party leader. There were 700 of us from jp nagar, kainch chhola, chhola mandir, phoota maqbara. We went marching to the chief minister’s residence. We demanded medical care because there was no government arrangement for medical relief. We demanded that the government take care of us, drive away the company and punish the company. We demanded that the government should make the company pay for the damages caused. Ayub Bhai and anees bhai met with the chief minister who said he was making arrangements for medical care but these turned out to be just empty promises.

Then on 16th December I and about two hundred others went on a demonstration to the governor’s residence. Sathyu and others in the zahareeli gas kand sangharsh morcha led that demo that went to the governor’s residence. We demanded information on the disaster and its health effects, once again we demanded medical care. I went to many demonstrations after that.

In 1984 i used to live in rajgarh colony which is 500 meter south-west from the union carbide factory. After the gas i used to have attacks of acute breathlessness, my eyes burned all the time, for 8 days i could not leave my bed i was vomiting green stuff all the time.

In 1993 after the communal riots i moved with my family to blue moon colony. We had no money so i sold off my house in rajgarh colony and moved to blue moon colony. I did not know that the water there had poisons in it. It tasted horrible and smelled strong but we never thought there could be chemicals in it.

I used to carry loads in the vegetable market. After the disaster I could work for 2 days only and then for next 8 days i would be sick. Ever since the disaster i could never work enough to support my family.

My grandson pappu died 2 days after the disaster. He was just days old when he died. My mother shakina bee died after prolonged suffering due to the gas. My daughter’s father in law rasoool khan who lived in chhola died two years after the disaster. Three years back my grand daughter farheen fell very sick. I do not know what her sickness was but the doctor said she needed blood transfusion my wife and son gave her blood but we could not save her she died two years back. My daughter in law had a miscarriage when she was five months pregnant.

Because of the poison in the water all in my family are sick. This is what keeps me worried all the time.

I have lots of expectations from this walk we hope to win our demand of employment in accordance with health status.

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Naval Singh
AGE: 55 years; March to Delhi (2006) participant

At the time of the disaster I used to work in a beer factory as a labourer. I got very breathless after the disaster and the contractor i used to work under told me i was no longer employable. So i had to move away from my rented house. I went to atal ayub nagar and put up a small hut. I live in house no. 1319, gali no. 3, atal ayub nagar.

Ever since i lost my job at the beer factory i have not been able to find regular work. I work as a casual labourer whenever I can. Most of the time I am sick, I have trouble breathing.

At the time when the masjid was attacked in Ayodhya, there were communal riots in Bhopal. The situation was so bad that all of us to run away to safer places. During that time some people came and burnt my hut. The money I had saved for the marriage of my children was also stolen. When we came back after the riots, the whole place was in ruins. I lost everything I had.

The water that we get from our hand pumps is very bad it smells and is very difficult to drink or cook. Sometimes a tanker comes and gives us water. Otherwise we have to go to Arif Nagar to get water. When we first came to Atal Ayub Nagar we did not know about the contaminated water, and we used to drink and to cook in this water. My wife and children do not keep well; they always feel tired and cannot do any work. Their stomach and heart burns all the time, there is no appetite. They have rashes all over their body and they keep scratching all the time. Because they do not keep well they are not able to go for work, we earn very less. It has become very difficult to carry on.

I earn about Rs.50/- to Rs.60/-per day on the days I work. When I am sick then I am not able to earn anything. My elder son also goes out whenever possible, he earns about a thousand rupees a month, this is a big help. We have no other source of income.

After i got exposed to the poisonous gases on that night i stayed for just two days. My people in my village told me not to stay in Bhopal. They were afraid i will die.so i left Bhopal and went to my village. I wasn’t there when the government carried out surveys. So i never got registered as a gas victim and I have not received any compensation.

I am not able to breathe properly; any strenuous work and I get breathless. My stomach burns all the time. I do not feel like eating anything. My heart burns continuously, I feel tired all the time. I suffer from joint pains.

I have taken part in many rallies organized in Bhopal. I had gone for the demonstration at Mumbai, we had gone with lots of brooms.

We are very poor people so i can not help people with money. But in case somebody needs to be taken to the hospital, then I help out. I also try to keep my surrounding clean with the help of my neighbours.

I go with the hope that we would get some compensation and that we would get better medicals treatment. The government should make the carbide factory clean up the water and soil near the factory. We should get piped water and not water from the hand pumps. Those of us who cannot earn a living because of our sickness should be given suitable jobs. That a house be provided to us who are affected by the contaminated water. I hope that the demands will be conceded fast. The government should not say that they would study the problem and then do something. The struggle has gone too long.

I am not afraid at all. I am in the Padyatra for a good cause. If I die on the way so be it. But the government should realize their responsibility.

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Mohammed Anwar Hasan Siddique
AGE: 55 years; March to Delhi (2006) participant

At the time of the gas leak i used to live in Teela Jamalpura, Bhopal. In 1995 i moved to Housing Board Colony in Karond.

I used to work as a wood turner but the doctors at Sambhavna Clinic told me to stay away from dust. Since last year i have stopped working with wood and now I run a small grocery shop.

I have a son who is 29 years old. He was not given any compensation. He was exposed badly and was never in good health, he is very weak. I earn about 70 to 80 rupees per day from the grocery shop. My wife also stays sick. She sews clothes and earns some money.

I got 70,000/- as compensation. Most of the money was spent on my treatment. I used to be very sick. I am much better since i have started taking treatment at the Sambhavna clinic.

I have severe backache. My eyes burn a lot. I also suffer from breathlessness. I have to use an inhaler several times in a day.

I am involved with the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morch

I went for the World Social Forum at Mumbai in December 2003. There I took part in a street theatre and because i am fair complexioned I was given the part of Uncle Sam. I have been to several demos before and after the WSF.

Along with other people in my locality I help out in keeping the neighbourhood clean.

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Mohammed Salim
AGE: 40 years; March to Delhi (2006) participant

I used to live in banganga near new market at the time of the disaster. So though i got exposed to the poisonous gases i wasn’t exposed so badly. I am more sick from the water than the gas. I came to annu nagar in 1994. in banganga i had to pay rent for the house. I thought we would have our own house in annu nagar. I knew nothing about the poisons in the ground water when i moved in to annu nagar. At first it was difficult to drink that water and hold it down but gradually we got used to it. I came to know about the poisons in 2002 when the campaigners came to collect brooms for the demonstration at the dow headquarters.

Two years after i moved in to annu nagar i started falling sick. I had severe pain on my side and had to be hospitalized. i was admitted for three months in Jawahar Lal Nehru Hospital then the doctors referred me to Hamidia Hospital.

In 1984 I worked as a gate keeper at Rang Mahal Talkies presently I work as a commercial painter.

I worry about my wife who remains sick often.

If I get work then I earn about Rs. 100.00 a day.

I have not received any compensation.

The day after the gas leak on 5th December 1984 my brother died. And I was vomiting because of exposure to the gas. Today i suffer from hyper tension. My blood pressure goes up, I am not able to see properly and get panic attacks. Nowadays I suffer from pain in the knees. I am not able to lift weights of even 5 kilos and I feel very weak all the time.

I am involved with the Bhopal Group for Information and Action.

I have participated in 6 or 7 rallies with the contaminated water affected people. I had also gone to Delhi in 2005.

When I had gone for demonstration with the water affected people to the office of the Director I was beaten up by the police.

Even in the middle of the night I go and help whoever is in need. Seeing the enthusiasm with which we are going to Delhi, I am sure that the problems faced by the gas victims will be reduced to a large extent. I have no worries at all about the padyatra.

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Shabir Khan
AGE: 18 years; March to Delhi (2006) participant

I am with my mother Guddee Bee for the Padyatra, I live in blue moon colony with my mother and with my younger brother [kallu] and sister [shaibee]. I was born in a village near Ganj Basoda and came to Bhopal last year. I went to school till 5th class but the teacher didn’t teach much. When I was 10 years old I started working in a stone quarry near our village. I used to break stones with a 20 pound hammer. When the stones in the quarry got exhausted there was no work for me. My father used to do the same work, he died 13 years back when the truck full of stone, in which he was sitting fell in to a river. After my father’s death my mother went to Bhopal to live with her sister. The reason I came to Bhopal was to find some work because I was the eldest in the family and had to support my mother and brother and sister. Our aunt [nafeesa bee who is also with the padyatra] used to live in blue moon colony so I came to live with her. I could find work in building construction but there’s no regular work. I knew that the water in blue moon colony was poisoned, it tasted very bad the first time I drank a sip. It was terrible but I had to drink it for four or five months. Then I started falling sick, vomiting and stomach ache and dizziness. Then I stopped drinking the hand pump water I always try hard to get water from tankers. I have never played any games – would have loved to play cricket but I don’t even get time to watch it on tv also we don’t have a tv at home.

I have never joined any demonstration. Never found time for those even if I wanted to. I could come on this padyatra because there is no work for me for the next month. What I like about this padyatra is the people who are with us. Walking with so many people is fun. My legs hurt from walking but I am getting used to it. I have a lot of hope that we will win, that we will get piped water.

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Bhaskar Dasgupta
Writing his account to mark the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster...

It was early morning of a cold 3rd of December, roughly about 20 years now, that we heard the news, that some kind of an industrial accident had taken place in Bhopal, my home town in India. Bhopal, right about in the centre of the country, was then a small provincial town, the administrative capital for the Madhya Pradesh state. Other than being a state capital, the city could boast of few other things of importance. Bhopal was named after Raja Bhoj, an 11th century ruler, whose claim to fame relates to a quote "Kahan Raja Bhoj, kahan Gangu Teli" alluding to the vast difference and gap between rulers and ordinary peasants. It is surrounded by a very interesting set of fascinating places, with amazingly realistic cave paintings dating back to about 5000 BC; a Hindu Shiv temple which possesses the tallest stone Shiv lingam and has a huge religious gathering there every year on the occasion of Shivratri; a huge Buddhist Stupa with intricate stone carvings at Sanchi, which is supposed to be the repository of the Buddha's finger.

Bhopal was one of the old princely kingdoms of pre Independence India which have been ruled by a series of women rulers and there is a reasonably famous book called as “Begums of Bhopal” by Shahrayar M. Khan. Bhopal is also famous for having the ex ruler as Nawab of Pataudi (he was an ex-Indian cricket captain, married to a very famous Indian actress). It’s a city of two halves, the old Bhopal, with very narrow streets jammed with taxi's, bicycles, cars, scooters, pushcarts, donkeys, cows and children; very crowded with tiny shops selling everything from refrigerators to beaded velvet purses; garages, houses all almost piled one on top of another, the call to prayers from the innumerable mosques resounding from the walls, the food streets with delectable treats such as biryani, kebabs and curries; the feeling of teeming humanity was in those streets. Then there was the new Bhopal, a planned city, no industry to speak off and most of the people being bureaucrats with their families; living in large government supplied accommodation with big gardens, very wide roads, very green, full of lakes and one of the good towns in the cacophony that is India.

It is a very nice place to grow up. There are lots of trees to climb, pools and rivulets to catch fish in, and small steep sided hills to climb and trek in, something which a growing boy will love. One felt connected with the city, a bunch of very good and extremely smart/intelligent friends to hang out with (no girls I am afraid, lets not push the story out too much). It was a sleepy little town which suddenly woke up to being the sad and unfortunate city, where thousands died after an industrial accident released a poisonous gas at the Union Carbide plant (now owned by Dow) in the heart of the city.

It being a cold December night, the heavier than air poison methyl isocyanate gas which leaked, no wind, very crowded narrow streets, all combined into a disastrous situation and turned Bhopal into a gas chamber. Small crowded houses mean that most people sleep on the floor, the cold weather meant that they were sleeping tightly wrapped up in blankets with doors and windows tightly closed. The heavier than air gas meant that it crept along the ground and entered through every crack and slot in doors and windows. The lack of wind and narrow streets meant that the poison gas wasn’t able to be dispersed. Plus the industrial plant (which made pesticides) was slam bang in the middle of the old city, surrounded with slums and the aforementioned teeming humanity. Hundreds died in their sleep, thousands more found their lungs rotting away, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t see because of the streaming eyes. It was a scene from hell, but something which we didn’t know when we set out to college at 7AM.

There were very few students around and our Professor of Chemistry, Dr. Maini, took the opportunity to talk to us about the use of carbon to absorb poisons. Be that as it may, by 8AM in the morning, it was clear that there will be no classes and I made a beeline to the canteen to quaff the usual cuppa chai. My friend Rajan was also there and we were discussing the little that we knew about the accident. We were young lions then and we decided to go over to the scene of the accident and see if we could possibly help out in any way. So we hopped on Rajan's bike and off we went to the far side of the train station and looked around for, well, something to do or somewhere we could help. We spotted a small team of doctors from the local main general public hospital and asked them, can we help? Well, I think we were more a hindrance than a help but be that as it may, we opened doors, offered water, gave directions, etc.

I do not know about Rajan's memories, but I can only remember few snippets, a small desolate monkey chained to a tree in one of the very narrow lanes between mud houses. It survived because it was higher up in the tree so the heavy methyl isocyanate gas didn’t affect it that much, but still it yowled with streaming eyes. It was a startling sight, seeing a small monkey crying. Piles of dead buffaloes, extremely dusty air, a sense of eerie desolation in some of the lanes where everybody was dead. The lawns in front of the Gandhi Medical College were covered with shrouded bodies. One very poignant scene I will never forget, a child was sitting next to a shroud, pulling on the arm and softly crying out, "Mother, why aren’t you waking up?"

The second day, the army stepped in with their heavy equipment and we could see transporters and mobile cranes breaking houses to get to the piles of dead cattle to dispose of the carcasses, to avoid more of a catastrophe. Quite a lot of the houses had their own buffalos and cows in their courtyards and they had died there. Obviously, the big army transporters and mobile cranes couldn’t really enter into the narrow streets, so they called out the tanks to break in. The heat of the afternoon was bloating the carcasses and we heard stories of how people had died when they were caught in the vicinity of some of the carcasses exploding. The bulldozers on the outskirts of the city were digging huge massive trenches lined with limestone to bury the cadavers.

The cattle were lucky, they had these machines lift their carcasses up and bury them quickly. The humans were singularly unfortunate. With the Muslim injunction to bury the dead on the same day, bodies went unburied for a long time because entire families were wiped out. Grave diggers are amongst the poorest of the poor and there were not that many of them in the first place. Shallow graves were dug and people buried willy nilly. One of the most poignant photographs that I remember is of a little baby being buried in a very shallow grave, its eyes open and a hand trying to cover its body with a thin layer of soil and stones. Look at the photo at the top left corner of www.bhopal.net and then see if it doesn’t rip your heart apart with sadness.

Rajan and I went back the second day and again tried to help out, giving medical attention (which consisted of giving digestive tablets and asking people to wash their eyes out with water). Nobody had a clue about the accident. The junior doctors were bewildered by the symptoms. So there was actually no real cure to the problem and the doctors were trying to do something, anything at all, to try to help the poor sufferers who had started coming up in droves for help. Let us also not forget that Bhopal is a small town, with very little medical infrastructure (a point to which I will return in my next column) so combined with ignorance about the poison gas, it was really very little anybody could do, but to helplessly watch them die or suffer.

Well, prescribing digestive tablets and asking people to wash their eyes out with water we could do, and that's what we did. I do not remember much from this day, except for one incident when this poor fellow came up to me and thinking I was a doctor handed over this little bundle of rags to me and said, "Doctor Sahib, my daughter is not well, can you please take a look at her?". Rajan was with the other team and I have to admit that I was absolutely panic stricken. I looked around for help and my eyes fell on the hopeful but defeated rheumy eyes of the father. I don’t remember whether the mother was there, but I don’t think she was. Well, never say die and I tried to help by blowing air into her mouth, rubbing her little hands, but within minutes even my untrained eyes could see that she had gone. I have to confess that I took the coward's way out and told the father to take her to the hospital. We went back home by the afternoon and I was hors de combat by the evening, I had been exposed to the poison gas.

Lord only knows where I caught it from, either from one of the cattle, or from giving mouth to mouth to the baby or from somewhere else. Mind you, the gas was still present for 7 days and nights. So anybody who was there would be exposed to it. This is an indication of the sheer ignorance everybody had. If this had happened elsewhere, the city would have been quarantined and/or evacuated! Anyway, it was touch and go, my parents tried all the medical techniques starting from Allopathy to Homeopathy. In fact, Ma made a trip to a grave/shrine of a great Sufi Saint at Fatehpur Sikri to beg for my life. Anyway, whether it was the quacks or the medicines or the prayers or a combination of all of them, it worked and I am here to bore you all with this.

This was much more than what happened to the poor benighted gas sufferers. Much has been written about the inquiry on the accident, the medical details, the legal situation and the law suits, the compensation paid and all that. Thousands of these men, women and children have and are going to keep on suffering because of this accident. Their lungs have rotted out. They cannot walk 10 steps without gasping for breath. The women who were widowed were absolutely wretched because their man had died and left them with no economic hope. The state government, so significantly stretched for resources, had to try to help the survivors. Small industrial units, such as sewing workshops and light manufacturing, were set up. Local medical centres were built, research centres established to research these conditions, industrial engineers understood and have spread the word on safety and storage of these dangerous gases, town planners have learnt about the dangers of having chemical plants inside the town levels. The recent EU chemical safety directive has got some connections to this disaster. The world learnt much from this disaster, the survivors got something out of it and the general public has now forgotten all about it. Life goes on. Robert Frost said : “In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life - it goes on.”

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Teenage Testimonies

Women's Problems
After the incident, no one under 18 years old was registered as a victim. Yet, at least 200,000 children are estimated to have been exposed to the gas, half of them girls. As they approach the age when they should start menstruating, some girls find that they are experiencing three or four cycles a month, others have only one period in three months. Many experience pain which more than one have strikingly described as ‘writhing like a fish out of water’. It is hard for young girls to talk about such things and their mothers do not know what to do. We are looking for ways to treat this without hormonal drugs.

A sample of testimonies taken by the Sambhavna Clinic during one day in June 1999...

Teenager one
Age 19 years; age at exposure 4 years
Menstruation at 15 years

For the first five to six months my periods were irregular and without much discomfort. Then I stared getting terrible abdominal cramps. I get nauseous, giddy and my head aches. I take allopathic medicines to get relief from pain. My cycles are irregular and there is a delay of 5-7 days. There have been times when I did not get my periods for two months. Also there is excessive bleeding, in the form of clots. During my periods I cannot do any work.

Teenager two
Age 17 years; age at exposure 2 years
Menstruation at 12 years

When I started menstruating it was quite bearable but I have been having terrible problems for the last three years. I get periods once in four months. I get irritable, have abdominal pain and I cannot concentrate on anything. There is pain all over my body. For days before my periods I writhe in agony like a fish out of water. My eyes are weak. I am sad most of the time. I do not know how but I feel that my health problems are my fault and I have to bear them. I do not know how long. I am told not to mention my problems to anybody but it is the truth. I used to feel I would rather die than have a life like this. At last I know I can do something about it.

Teenager three
Age 17 years; age at exposure 2 years
Menstruation at 12 years

When I started my periods, they were regular for three to four months but then they stopped for four months. So I took some pills and got my periods. For the last one year my problems with irregular cycle are getting worse. I had my periods once in five months. For the last seven months I have not had my periods at all. I have been taking medicines but there is no improvement. I hope you can help me.

Teenager four
Age 21 years; age at exposure 6 years
Menstruation at 15 years

At first my periods seemed okay but after 4 months there was excessive bleeding. My periods are very irregular and I have severe pain before I get them. The pain lasts for two to three days. I get fever and severe headache. I cannot do work or sleep. I cannot eat and just take tea or milk. When I have excessive bleeding there are clots. Currently I am taking treatment at the Sambhavna Clinc and I have got much relief from pain. I have seven sisters and all of them have similar menstrual problems. Several of my friends at school have problems too.

More information about the reproductive effects of the disaster is available here.

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The international student campaign to hold Dow accountable for Bhopal, and its other toxic legacies around the world.
For more information about the campaign, or for problems regarding this website, contact
Shana Ortman, the US Coordinator for the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal.
Last updated: April 30, 2008

WE ALL LIVE IN BHOPAL

"The year 2003 was a special year in the history of the campaign for justice in Bhopal. It was the year when student and youth supporters from at least 30 campuses in the US and India took action against Dow Chemical or in support of the demands of the Bhopal survivors. As we enter the 20th year of the unfolding Bhopal disaster, we can, with your support, convey to Dow Chemical that the fight for justice in Bhopal is getting stronger and will continue till justice is done. We look forward to your continued support and good wishes, and hope that our joint struggle will pave the way for a just world free of the abuse of corporate power."

Signed/ Rasheeda Bi, Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Affected Women Stationery Employees Union
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal