Dharna day 6: “Oh look, the bastards are back to rob us”

Delhi’s incessant heat that persists even during the night resulted in an asthma attack for Irfan Bhai. Morning unfurled with hasty emergency calls asking for volunteers to take Irfan Bhai to AIIMS, one of India’s leading hospitals. However, failing to find a volunteer at such a short notice Vikas and Nawab Bhai started off for AIIMs with Irfan Bhai. Shalini could only join them almost an hour later due to roads flooded with water and debris.

Commonwealth games have left the city in much despair and misery. It was shocking to see the situation inside the hospital as well. Patients were making their way through different units in the rain water that trespassed its way to the insides of the hospital and clogged the corridors. Within two hours of medication and nebulization Irfan Bhai felt much better and returned to Jantar Mantar. On his way he kept reminiscing about the good old days of eighties when there were few vehicles on the road! Shalini, meter meter bhag lete the hum log! Ab to sadak sirf auto, car, buses aur inhe chalane waalon ke liye hain! (Shalini, we could run kilometers at a stretch back then. Now roads are the property of autos, cars, buses and those who can manage to afford them! Pedestrians have no right to the roads.)

Later in the day, IBN News Channel team visited the dharna site to do a story on Sana. This eight year old girl has been braving a tumour in her throat since last four years. Yesterday, Rajya Sabha MP Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan visited us and made arrangements for her medical care after talking directly with the director of AIIMS. She has an early morning appointment with the doctor on Monday and post diagnosis we will have some clarity on the situation. For now, she is bored with the rains, nothing to do and nowhere to go. All day long, men and women huddle under a small green tripal (plastic tent) our temporary water resistant arrangement. The water may try too seep into the tent but it will have to do a tremendous job to drench their courage, they sing songs and keep the spirits high. The first song in their long list is- Humko lootan ko aa gayé harami log, humko lootan ko aa gayé. Bhopal se hum paidal chalé, Anshan ke baad ManMohan milé, unke aadesh na mané harrami log, unké aadesh na mané! (Oh Look! The bastards have come to rob us again. We walked on foot from Bhopal and only after a long hunger strike ManMohan met us. But look oh look, these Bastards dont even know how to keep promises. They are back again to rob us! )This song was written during the 2008 protests by Meera, Hajira Bi and others in a similar situation and was an instant hit with the people! Meera got married a few months later and is busy with her new home and family now.

The second half of the day was quite unexpected, Jan Natya Manch team visited the dharna site. Shamsul Islam who was active in the relief work for Bhopal in the days that followed the disaster has been a staunch supporter of the struggle. Despite the rains, and no place to sit he went ahead and cheered us with his inspiring songs. Being an activist and a theatre artist himself he knows the challenges of surviving on the streets so before leaving he quietly handed us some donation towards the dharna expenses. Such warmth and help from supporters will keep us going! And an added challege will be to provide for lunch for 100 people everyday as ISKON has stopped the lunch service.

We are writing to different groups and people for support. But if you could also help us in raising donations we would really appriciate that.

All cheques payable in the name of ‘The Other Media’ are to be sent to our Bhopal office: Rachna Dhingra, C/o ICJB, 44 Sant Kanwar Ram Nagar, Berasia Road, Bhopal, MP 462001

If you are sending us a cheque kindly also send us an email to let us know about the same. Please do share this call for support to all your contacts. Do not hesitate in calling Rachna at +91 9826167369 if you would like to discuss ways in which you can support us. But most of all do visit us at Jantar Mantar, for your presence brings much encouragement and joy to us!

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