Justice eludes Bhopal gas tragedy victims

Warren Anderson, the chief of Union Carbide, was detained as soon as he arrived in New Delhi, but was subsequently freed.

On a cold winter night of 3rd December, 1984, mayhem descended on the population of Bhopal. Bhopal was never a city which was in news ever in the history of the nation whose soul found utterance at the stroke of the midnight hour.

I was a student of Class 10th and was to go for my NDA written test which was scheduled a couple of days after the Bhopal gas tragedy. The exam got postponed and when I went to write the exam after two months of this horrific tragedy, I could feel the emptiness when I landed at Bhopal Station. There were hardly any people around and the streets once bustling with people were empty.

Methyl isocyanide gas leak from Union Carbide factory caused havoc

On December 3 when most of the people in the city were tucked in bed and sleeping, Methyl isocyanide (MIC) gas leaked from the pesticide factory of Union Carbide Corporation in Bhopal. The workers and managers tried to stop the leak but were unable to do so. They fled in the opposite side of the wind and saved their lives. MIC gas, however, continuously spread around the city and being heavier than air, hung like a shroud and claimed thousands of victims.

Hospitals were full and doctors unable to cope with the flood of people choking with the effects of the gas. Not much was known about the MIC gas and the only credible news source was BBC, which claimed that the death toll could crossed thousands.

Union Carbide head Warren Anderson was never prosecuted

Warren Anderson, the head of Union Carbide, was arrested as soon as he landed in the nation’s capital but was released soon after. Warren Anderson was never prosecuted and died a contented man of 98 years.

Scores of committees were formed to investigate the tragedy but nothing came out. Union Carbide only offered paltry sums as compensation, but went scot free and the money it paid as damages has still not been disbursed since the verification process is not complete.

Union Carbide would have gone bankrupt had it been tried in an American court. However, for Uncle Sam, Indian lives matter least and hence can be pardoned for any act of omission.

The incident faded out of memory for the common man but the incident still haunts me. The most haunting picture was of a child who was being buried and a doting father was trying to rub the dirt of the unseeing eyes. The poignant picture was snapped by legendary photographer Raghu Rai and was published on the front page of India Today. The image still haunts me.

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