FROM SARVADARSHI IN DELHI
SENT 9.30pm IST, RECEIVED 17:05 BRITISH SUMMER TIME
4pm IST, Bano Bee, 55, is struck in the chest and knocked unconscious
Her limp body is carried away by police…And placed in a jeep
At 4.01pm IST a kick in the chest knocks Ashraaf Bee, 60, senseless. Both women had walked 800km to see the Prime Minister
Bano Bee and Ashraaf Bee were taken unconscious from the rally and left at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, a hospital chosen by the police.
The conditions in the hospital were horrendous. Neither Ashraaf Bee nor Bano Bee were given their own bed, but were stuffed onto single beds with other, unrelated patients.
They were extremely distraught about the way they were treated both by the police and by the doctors in the casualty ward.
The doctor accused Bano Bee who is 55 years old, of malingering and threatened to explore her abdomen surgically to reveal the truth. “Then you’ll really have pain,” the doctor told her, “You can hold your stomach and walk around in pain instead of pretending.”
The hospital refused to let them see their own chest x-rays, giving them instead only a written report that they were fine.
They have been released and are back at the camp near Humayun’s tomb. We have decided they need independent medical examination because we suspect that the hospital is in collusion with the police to minimise and falsify their injuries. Right now they are waiting for some other doctors to arrive at the camp.
JAIL UPDATE, 22:43 IST, 18:13 BST
We don’t have an exact number of people originally arrested in front
of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, but we estimate it to be
between 200 and 300. We do know that among those arrested were 35
children (age 12 and under), including many infants.
Within just a few hours, the police offered to drop everybody off at
Jantar Mantar, where they could be cordoned off and comfortably
controlled by the police. But these Bhopalis were absolutely livid at
how they had been treated after walking 800 km. They refused the
offer, realizing the cops desperately wanted them out of their
custody. The police had neither the time nor the resources to do the
paperwork as well as feed and shelter so many people all at once. The
Bhopalis did not want to let these these thugs off so easily — how
dare they yank and drag them across the pavement from where they were
sitting peacefully, stuff them in buses, cart them to the jail, and
then hope for it all to end conveniently for themselves. People
started shouting spontaneously, “We are not afraid! We will spend the
night in jail!”
The police were slowly beginning to realize they had underestimated
how tough and determined the padyatris and other Bhopalis are. After
a bold stand by 38 people who were then arrested and jailed, the
police decided that even a few Bhopalis were far more than they wanted
to deal with, and all the remaining arrestees were separated and
compelled to leave.
Currently, everyone is out of jail.
The day had started off peacefully in the spirit of the long march, which had been marked by songs and dancing, and the walkers nurturing a naive trust that the Prime Minister of India would listen to their problems.
The marchers and their supporters from Bhopal, among whom were whole families with children, had gone to hold a rally outside the Ministry of Chemicals. The “Bhopal Cell” in this ministry is ultimately responsible for the well-being of the survivors of the gas- and water-catastrophes.
There were so many police outside the ministry that the photographer who took these pictures could hardly see the Bhopalis, who were outnumbered by the cops.
The crowd of Bhopalis, which was there by arrangement, had no idea of what was about to happen. The picture below was taken at 15:36 IST, shortly before the police attacked.
15:42 IST and still no inkling of what lay ahead.
Madhumitta Dutta, who had been talking to the police, was the first to be grabbed.
A minute after the previous picture was taken, with fear spreading among the mothers with young children, Ashraaf Bee was kicked in the chest and collapsed.
Women with children were not spared. There were between 200-300 people in the crowd of Bhopalis, a large number of them were children. Some children had been brought from Bhopal precisely because it is their young generation which is bearing the pain caused by Carbide’s birth-defect causing chemicals. Look at the children on this page and read their stories.
35 children under 12 years old were taken into police custody.
Even as the police buses, ordered up and on the spot before the marchers and their families even arrived, carried them away, the people were singing.
Throughout every footsore mile of their extraordinary journey, these people have refused to be daunted, have kept up their spirits with dancing and song. This setback will only strengthen their determination to win justice.