Tag Archives: Dharna 2010

Day 18

Dharna Blog

August 13, Day 18

The dharna site was quiet today, the mood steady but resigned to waiting. Meanwhile Rasheeda bi, Shalini, Rachna and Sathyu were able to get around 20-25 more endorsements of our petition by parliamentarians, and the personal secretaries of some MPs helped us access other parliamentarians. It was hard to figure out how to go about finding parliamentarians whom they could talk to – so they approached all sorts of people- secretaries, security guards, party office staff and so on to help us recognise parliamentarians. So now we have a total number of 53 endorsements from MPs representing 18 different parties. We hope to have a lot more endorsements from the CPI as Mr. D. Raja is circulating our petition amongst his party members.

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Press Conference

PRESS CONFERENCE

What: Bhopalis to conclude dharna; 62 MPs from 19 Political Parties Write to PM

Significant progress on major demands

When: 18 August, 2010. 3 p.m.

Where: Jantar Mantar dharna sthal

Background:

More than 60 MPs spanning 19 political parties have endorsed a letter to the PM urging him to resolve all pending rehabilitation issues related to Bhopal by the 26th Anniversary in December 2010. With this assurance, and in light of the steps taken by the Governments of India and Madhya Pradesh to address some of the key demands of the Bhopal dharna, the five organisers of the July-August, 2010, dharna will end their protest and return to Bhopal tomorrow. A presentation on the status of various demands, and a copy of the Letter from MPs to the PM will be made.

For more information, contact: Rachna Dhingra: 09826167369 or Shalini: 9958924989

 

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Day 21

Dharna Blog

Day 21 – 16 August 2010

Rachna and Shalini set out early morning for the Parliament.  They have been visiting the Parliament since last week in order to get endorsements from different Members of Parliaments. A week later, both of them seem to know a lot more of the Parliament and its many curves and lanes. At the same time, their faces have become familiar to lot more people. No wonder, when one is missing among the duo, the other is often asked by the security guards and other staff, ‘how come you are alone today, where is your friend?” Finding friends in this giant and seeming cold building is no mean task. And this is what both these ladies have been trying to do for the last six days- finding friends for Bhopalis among the Parliamentarians.

The experience so far has been bitter-sweet. Today was no different. They waited outside the Parliament for the person who was supposed to help them with the entry passes. After many unacknowledged, unreturned calls they decided to contact someone they met a day ago in the Parliament. He is Personal Secretary to a MP and he had been very forthcoming with his support. On a single call he ensured we get the passes. Our first stop being the alley near gate 2 close to Lok Sabha Gallery. ‘Abhi aapka stock poora nahi hua madam?’ asked a PS sitting next to us. We smiled and mentioned how we are trying for some more endorsements in order to have representations from different political parties. Two-three more PS sat next to us, discussing among themselves the status of politics, how parliamentarians are now demanding a salary raise from Rs 80,000 per month to Rs 1,60,000 and making playful bet on who would win the elections in Bihar this time and amidst all this euphoria remembering to give us a meaningful nod whenever a MP passed by. Soon we collected ten more endorsements.

We then decided to visit the office of Ms. Sushma Swaraj, senior leader BJP.  To our dismay we learnt she won’t be able to meet us due to her prior engagements. Nonetheless, we met a MP in her office who endorsed the petition immediately. It was already lunch time and MPs were rushing to Central Hall where entry is restricted to Parliamentarians and senior journalists. But there are other places where general public can try their luck for instance, elevators where so far we have met two parliamentarians. On an average we get some two to three minutes to explain our cause. In most cases we do not leave till the MP either reads the petition and endorses it or dismisses us with some standard statements like- I will read and get back, I will see you on my way back, or leave it in my party office. Such statements are indicative of their reluctance to engage any further. We take the cue and leave.

We then went to third floor where most party offices are. Checking every name plate and peeking into the office if there was any sound from inside we also learnt which parliamentarians take their lunch in the party office and which never set their foot in. This is how we had stopped at the office of a national party twice in last four days. On both occasions the senior leaders were having their meals inside. We were asked to talk to the MP on his way out however all our patience gave way when the MP dismissed the petition asking us to return only with a petition on the letter head used by Parliamentarians. He retorted, “What will be the beauty of my signature. My name will be reduced to one among the many. Get a letter head and I will consider.” Well, Mr MP you might have the authority to sign but the decision to seek your endorsement is still ours and so we silently decide to leave in search of not so egoistic and not so egotistic MPs. Our experience has taught us there are many who put the cause before where will my name be in the list of endorsers.

Meanwhile Parliament was adjourned for the day. We now have a total of 62 signatures with representations from  19 political parties. On our way out we met Jayant Chaudhary, a young Parliamentarian from RLD, who gave us a patient hearing but asked us to collect the endorsement next day from his office. We went to meet Sandipto Bandopadhyay, MP- Trinamool Congress at his house and he asked us to wait till Ms. Mamta Banerjee returns. Ms. Banerjee being the party leader needs to be consulted for any political endorsement. Finally we left the petition for Mr. Dara Singh Chauhan, MP- NCP at his house and returned to Jantar Mantar, our home for last 21 days where, unlike us, most of the Bhopalis spent a quiet day. Once back with our friends we get busy with planning for tomorrow. Hopefully, Tomorrow will be another day!

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Day 17

Dharna Blog

Day 17: 11 August, 2010

Braving the humidity and heat all of us once again marched to Jantar Mantar in the morning from our night home, the shelter house at St’ Columbus School.  Once there, Mamu, Vikas and others put up the temporary tent and we all sat down together for our morning tea.  Sathyu soon left for Delhi Public School where a group of students had assembled to build their understanding of Bhopal and what it means today.

Meanwhile, Rachna, Shalini and Namdeo left for the Parliament for the usual round of MP endorsements on the Joint Petition addressed to the Prime Minister. ‘Today being the third day of our effort to get political support we had also become pretty comfortable with the staff in the Parliament. Many of them would recognize and smile encouragingly. A few others, like the Security Guard near the Rajya Sabha Gallery would give a thumbs up each time we would pass him,’ says Shalini. Both Rachna and Shalini would stand near the Rajya Sabha gate waiting for the Members of Parliament and as soon as they would see someone in white kurta and trousers, unofficial dress for the Parliamentarians, they would rush to them with the petition and supporting documents. The 7th June verdict has rekindled their interest into the facts of the disaster. With the debates scheduled for today in both the Houses of the Parliament suddenly facts have become sacred. That’s possibly why not a single Parliamentarian dismissed our Bhopal activists who seemed quite out of place in their very ordinary clothes and chappals.

In fact, Lal Krishna Advani, senior leader of Bhartiya Janta Party, who was on his way to the Lok Sabha was pleasantly surprised at being approached by these two ladies. He immediately arranged them to be taken to Sushma Sawaraj, a very eloquent speaker from BJP, who was to initiate the debate from opposition.  She had already left for the house. Since we did not know the timings of the debate in the Loksabha we missed out on attending that. However, we heard parts of the discussion while sitting in the office of Telgu Desham Party (TDP). The staff at TDP is very friendly and supportive. They helped us not only with Lok Sabha Passes for later in the day but also made us meet their leader Mysora Reddy who immediately endorsed the petition and asked us to meet him again in the evening for detailed discussion.

Sushma Swaraj and other members of the opposition came down strongly on the Congress and asked for immediate intervention in the matters of remediation, extradition and the US Court Case. On its part, Congress MPs tried dissuading the opposition by citing the gaps in the legal system and emphasizing on the role played by the government and GOM. Similarly in Rajya Sabha members of opposition like Ravi Shankar Prasad of BJP and Brinda Karat of CPI (M) criticized the government for its pro-Dow attitude and demanded immediate action against the company. Ram Vilas Paswan appreciated the role of Bhopal activists and organizations in sustaining the struggle for so long and demanded Empowered Commission to look into all aspects of relief and rehabilitation. While Arjun Singh, who made a rare appearance in Rajya Sabha today, blamed Narsimha Rao for Anderson’s exit, Chidambaram would be responding to the Opposition tomorrow.

The debate in Lok Sabha started around 12pm and continued till the evening while the debate in Rajya Sabha lasted more than three hours creating quite frenzy outside the Parliament amidst the MPs and visitors as well as amongst the media. 

Outside the Parliament at the pavement of Jantar Mantar, Sarita, Nidhi and Bhopalis were enjoying the rains which provided relief from the scorching heat for some time at least. Shalini, on the other hand, had a terrific time hitch hiking her way through water clogged city roads to IIT Delhi for a talk on Bhopal. Around 100 students attended the session, many being first year students, and pledged to support the struggle in all possible ways.

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Day 16, part 2

Dharna Blog

Day 16 – Aug 10, 2010 Part 2 (political update by Kaveri)

Shalini and Rachna went to the parliament today morning. The night before, Sandeep Dixit had informed us that there was to be a discussion on the gas disaster in Lok Sabha, and we’d send him some relevant documents. However, we didn’t know when the session would begin. MP Sayyed Pasha helped us enter the parliament, however we would need a second recommendation to enter the Lok Sabha gallery. The previous day, it was Mr. Abni Roy who took us inside the parliament.

So instead we asked Sathyu, Namdeoji and Rasheeda Aapa to join us, and took endorsements from MPs passing by the Rajya Sabha get. We again met Mr D. Raja, Shyam Benegal, Ms. Kannimozhi, Mani Shankar Aiyer, Anil Dave, and so on. Ravi Shankar Prasad recognized Sathyu and came over and appreciated our work and pledged his support. He said that he’d speak for this issue in the debate in the Rajya Sabha, scheduled for August 11. He also helped us get a pass for the Rajya Sabha. We then took a short break and ate the heavily subsidized food in the canteen, marveling at the prices at which MPs get fed!

A lot of MPs were verbally supportive. We were eventually able to get a pass from the Telugu Desam Party office to enter the Lok Sabha gallery in time for the afternoon debate. A discussion on Common Wealth games was taking place, and they postponed the debate on Bhopal to the next day, August 11. In the Rajya Sabha, the seating was very cramped and soon we came back downstairs to try and get more signatures. By the evening we had endorsements from members of the Congress, RSP, CPI, CPM, DMK, BJP, AIFB, AGP, MDMK, SAD, and some nominated and independent members.

Rachna and Shalini went to meet D Raja of CPI and Mr. Prabhat Jha, the BJP President in Madhya Pradesh, who would both be participating in the Rajya Sabha debate. They then went to meet Mr Ram Vilas Paswan. To all these, they gave some information on Bhopal for the parliamentary debates, and they also requested Mr Paswan to help expedite Sana’s surgery. 

The day ended on a more relaxed note for Rasheeda Aapa and Sathyu as they joined the youth from Manzil to speak about Bhopal. Manzil has been long associated since 3-4 years to the Bhopal struggle, coming and performing at our dharnas. Today we spent some time with them and it was mutually rewarding – with young dedicated supporters such as them, we feel our struggle grows stronger by the day.

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