There are 54 of us padyatris, aged between 1 and 73 years.
51 of us (20 female and 31 male) are victims of Union Carbide’s factory,. Some are survivors of the night of terror in 1984, others are affected by water poisoned by chemicals leaking from the factory. Some of us are both gas- and water-affected.
With us are three Bhopal-based activists, Vikas Tripathy from Greenpeace, and Rachna and Sathyu of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action, plus Maude, a phoographer from the USA and Daniel Gosling, a video artiste from the UK.
A little over 100 people had shown willingness to join the padyatra but as the day for the actual setting off drew near about half dropped out. For many it was a question of livelihood. People like Mr. Nusrat Ali from Annu Nagar, Mrs Leela Thakur and Mr. Mohammed Salim from Blue Moon Colony are breadwinners and were not able to arrange for the money their families would need while they were away.
Some like Mrs.Tulsa Bai and Mrs Ayesha Bee from Blue Moon Colony fell sick and could not join, Mrs. Suman Bai could not come because her husband became ill and Mrs Kunti Bai was unable to join us as she has an eye operation scheduled for March 12.
A few realized that if they went on the march they would be away from home during the Hindu festival of colours, ‘holi’, which falls this year on March 15.
One of our most active organizers Hazra Bee unfortunately fell from the motorcycle her son was driving two days before we left and is currently in bed with a back injury.
Shahid Noor, president of the orphan’s organization Bhopal ki Aawaaz underwent an operation for a testicular infection and was in hospital when we left, although he came to see us off.
Others will join us along the route. Mr Naseer from Nawab Colony had to take care of his buffaloes so he joined us in Sonkachh. Also Mr Tulasiram joined us in Gandhi Nagar. Rashida bee who has just come back from her Haj to Mecca will join us after five days with ten others.
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