New Delhi, 2nd Dec 2008
Read today’s press release
At times like this, when innocent people were being killed in a horrendous attack in Bombay, detoxification of our society and our lives takes on a deeper meaning. When Delhi-ites gathered for the 24th anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, our goal was to participate in the worldwide shaking free of our shackles of helplessness in the face of spreading poisons. We reject chemical toxins that find their way into our bodies in catastrophic holocausts like Bhopal, or in insidious ways into our water, air and food supply; we reject toxic hatred being spread in the world under the guise of communalism and terrorism (and its twin – the “war on terrorism”); we reject the toxic greed, personified by unscrupulous corporations, that kills the defenseless that get in its way; and finally we reject the toxic indifference of our elected leaders that, caught up in their own greed and ambition, fail to protect us from all of the above.
Our anger was subliminated into a creative, life-affirming program, compeered by Madhuresh of the Cacim group, of supportive speeches and inspirational songs.
the Manzil group
The site itself, close to our dharna site at Jantar Mantar, was surrounded by posters and photographs and passers-by who stopped by to examine them and stayed for the program.
Debayani Kar, read out a poem ‘Torture Me’, Shashank from IIT read out a list of successes that IIT and other universities have had over the past year in rebuffing Dow. The Delhi-based group, Manzil, performed several songs – a few kids who had gathered enjoyed dancing to the popular “Yeh taara- woh taara” from the movie Swades – and a particularly poignant song of their own – “Maanavtaa se naataa jodo” (form a kinship with humanity).
A supporter shares a testimonial
Vimlendu and Sunny sang, Shalini made a fiery speech, Aashish handed out pamphlets to passersby, reminding us of the eventful dharna a few months ago where he was our official pamphlet-hand-outer. S.A Khan from Jharkhand Forum connected splendidly demands and spirit of Bhopal, jharkhand and other movements in the country.
Sunny sings to the crowd
Shalini in calmer voice with the media
Some journalist friends also shared their connection with the struggle and the different stories they did during the Padyatra and Delhi protests. Several friends from different dharnas, protest groups and stalls also shared their stories and experiences with Bhopalis during their five month stay at Jantar Mantar.
At the end, in a sombre moment, we lit candles and stood together in two minutes of silence.
Our two minutes, compounded with those of thousands of schools and dozens of citizens groups all over India and the world, rang loudly. Twenty-four years has been far, far too long.