The day began with a meeting, late for us, it happened at about 10 a.m. to review yesterday’s meetings with the ministers and to discuss the day and days ahead.
Delhi’s newest radio star, the charming Rachna at our morning meeting
Sathyu read out a letter of support from Congressman Pallone and 19 colleagues in the US House of Representatives
There is some incredulity and no small amount of disappointment among the Bhopalis who have walked to far for so long that as of yet there has been no response from the Prime Minister’s office.
We distributed leaflets to passers by who were curious. After this people sat around in our camping ground on the pavement at Jantar Mantar and relaxed. Some called home.
Laxmi Bai did her washing and carefully hung it out to dry on the railings. Our people may be living rough, but they keep themselves and their clothes scrupulously clean. The saris make a fabulous display, billowing behind us in the breeze.
There is a great deal of interest in the papers. People are eager to know how the media are reporting our march and our demands. Some people scan the internet with laptops.
Nity came across a story about how peacocks, India’s national bird, are becoming endangered, partly because of poaching but largely because they are being poisoned by pesticides. Chlorpyrifos, Dow’s Dursban, is the main culprit.
Tehelka has today published a good article, which asks the question on everyone’s lips:
“Two decades after the tragedy, ailing gas victims are compelled to drink poisoned water. Will the prime minister help this time, or leave them to their slow death?”
During the morning we received a phone call from Oscar Fernandes’ office to tell us that he had already sent a letter to the Prime Minister asking him to make an appointment with the Bhopalis and their supporters.
Sandeep Dixit came to visit us
In the middle of the afternoon we received a visit from Sandeep Dixit, son of the Chief Minister of Delhi and a member of Parliament representing East Delhi. Mr. Dixit runs Sanket, a progressive NGO that has done a lot of economic and social research on Bhopal. He immediately took off his sandals and sat down on our blanket in the middle of all the Bhopalis and listened to Shazadi explain the desperate situation.
He gave us useful advice about who we should see to discuss the National Commission and who to talk to about the issue Dow’s liability.
While he was with us he tried to call Suresh Pachori, the MP and Minister in charge of the Central Bureau of Investigation, about setting up a meeting about what is happening regarding the prosecution of Warren Anderson and other guilty parties. Mr. Dixit also thought we should see Kamal Nath, the Minister of Commerce, about banning Dow Products in India, and that we should see Health Minister Ram Dass about all health issues. He immediately made several phone calls to try to pave the way for us to meet with all of these people.
Father John comes to call
We also had some visitors, including the Jesuit Father John, from the New Delhi school Vidhya Jyoti, which banned Pepsi from its cafeteria. Father John has been a friend of the Bhopal justice campaign for a long time. Other visitors included Mr. Murali, the lawyer who recently won the case which made the interest on the compensation money available to the survivors, and Usha Ramanathan, who is also a legal academician who supports the Bhopal campaign.
At 5 p.m. several Bhopalis and supporters including Rachna, Irfan Bhai, Madhu, and Champa Devi, met with Mr. Nachiappan, MP, a member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee, which has agreed to collect information (from us and from the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers, for instance) on the situation in Bhopal and make recommendations to Parliament. Mr. Nachiappan focuses specifically on human rights issues.
With Member of Parliament Mr. Nachiappan
Despite the slow-grinding wheels of state and the fact that we still have no appointment to see the man whom we have walked 800 kilometers to meet, spirits are high, our people are in good voice.
As it grew dark people crowded round a screen to see the documentary that Sudhir has shot of our long march from Bhopal.