37 years have passed since the world's worst industrial tragedy i.e. “Bhopal Gas Tragedy”. More than 3 lakh 24 thousand 120 hours have passed since the canker of the deadly gas that emanated from the Union Carbide factory in Bhopal on the dark and cold night of December 2 and 3, 1984, but the system's eyes have not yet opened. Some questions stood stoically after hearing the cries of death that night, they are still standing there. Bhopal has been cursed by the senseless system to hear the sound of the last muscle of death while facing the horror of death moment by moment. The dangerous thing is that we have not learned any lesson from ‘Bhopal’.
In India, 231 workers died in industrial accidents between May 2020 and June 2021. Accidents range from a dozen deaths due to leakage of poisonous gas from LG plant in Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh to 20 deaths in thermal power plant explosion and 21 lives due to fire at Virudhnagar firecracker factory. The figure of 117 deaths in industrial accidents in the country in the six months from January to June this year shows that how many residents are continuously decreasing.
No one knows the life span of the Bhopal accident after effects, which happened 37 years ago on the intervening night of 2nd and 3rd December. This has been told in the first report of the ICMR in 1987, three years after the accident. This report, which points to methyl isocyanide gas released in the accident, states that 24.2 per cent of pregnant women were victims of miscarriage. Of those who were born, 60.9% of the babies could not survive too long.
In the last four assembly elections, no political group has considered the issue of gas tragedy victims as an election issue. However, when the gas scandal and Anderson's case came into the limelight due to the court decision, committees were formed to investigate.
The present government had also constituted a judicial inquiry committee about 11 years ago. Neither Warren Anderson, the main accused in the accident, is in this world, neither his Indian partners nor his aides became the heads of the governments of the time.
The organizations of the people who helped the gas victims at that time have also disintegrated and the number of leaders has reached the same number as the years are passing by. Neither the responsible for the gas tragedy were punished nor did the victims deserve to feel relief. The politics regarding 'Bhopal' continues unabated.
Three and a half thousand people died in one night in the gas tragedy and about 35 thousand people who died in a continuous accident for thirty-seven years, it will be a true tribute to those who are left without better treatment and compensation. Get their due, otherwise every year on the anniversary we will increase the number one by one, nothing will happen.
However, it is also sad to get into the truth that on the anniversary of the gas tragedy, the gathering is in few numbers while Bhopal has a population of 20 lakhs. We are neither taking a lesson nor there is any sorrow left about the accident.
Instead of punishing the accused of the Bhopal gas accident, the government was more interested in recovering compensation from Carbide Company for the victims. Whenever there is an uproar in Bhopal to protect the accused from the law, the government starts talking about compensation in defence. Under the agreement signed in the year 1989, Union Carbide had given a compensation of Rs 705 crore to the Madhya Pradesh government for the victims. Nearly 21 years after this agreement, the central government filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court and claimed compensation of Rs 7728 crore. The petition was approved but the hearing did not start.
Many NGOs are working in Bhopal to bring justice to the gas victims. Rachna Dhingra, a social activist who raised her voice for the gas victims, claims based on documents obtained from RTI that there are around 500 women who have not yet got the amount of widow pension. This scheme for widowed women was started by the government in the year 2011. In the meantime, this scheme was closed twice, at present the scheme is on, but the applications of many women are pending amid the government's bets.
At the same time, if the responsible ministers and officers of the government are to be believed, they claim that many schemes are being operated for the gas victims, relief has been provided to a large number of victims. This trend will continue in the coming times as well. Women who are not getting pensions will also be given the benefit of this scheme.
Every year on this day a large number of people reach the memorial built-in memory of the gas victims located in front of Union Carbide and pay homage to the dead. The memorial built in the memory of the gas victims is illuminated every year on this day and with this, the wounds of the horrific gas tragedy are once again green. Hope all the victim families will get proper justice now.
Shakeel Ahmed Qureshi was the main culprit of this whole accident. Shakeel Ahmed was also sentenced to two years by the court. Who is Shakeel Ahmed, what does he look like, it is still a mystery? The CBI could not find Shakeel Ahmed even after 36 years. Even his photo is not with the CBI. In a way, the possibilities of going to jail for the culprits of this horrific gas tragedy of the world are almost over. No one knows about Shakeel Ahmed Qureshi. Qureshi was an operator in the MIC production unit. The entire incident could not be disclosed due to the absence of Qureshi.
The Basri of the gas incident is celebrated in Bhopal on 3rd December. Sarva Dharma Sabha is held in the Central Library. All government offices of Bhopal also remain closed. This tradition is going on for 36 years. In these years, many NGOs fought the fight for compensation even in America. Court proceedings took place on the demand to bring Anderson to India. But, no government could bring Anderson to India. Warren Anderson has died in America 06 years ago.
Those who have been sentenced by the lower court saved themselves from going to jail by appealing. The decision of appeal could not come even in 09 years. The CBI has filed an appeal in the sessions court to increase the punishment of the culprits in this case.
Moti Singh, who was the collector at the time of the Bhopal gas tragedy, exposed that truth in his book "Bhopal Gas Tragedy Ka Sach", due to which Warren Anderson was released on bail from Bhopal. Moti Singh wrote, "Warren Anderson was released on the orders of Arjun Singh. The first FIR was registered against him under non-bailable sections. Still, he was released on bail.
Union Carbide was a multinational company. Later it merged with Dow Chemical Company, (USA). It is now under Dow-Dupont since August 2017 after the Dow Chemical Company, (USA) merged with E.I. Dupont de Nemours & Co. In the current situation, the possibility of compensation will also increase, it is also less likely. The criminal cases against the accused are going on at two levels. First against the three absconding accused and second against the nine accused who appeared before the Chief Judicial Magistrate (C.J.M.) of Bhopal.
By order and judgment dated June 2010, C.J.M. Has sentenced these 8 accused (one is now dead) under sections 304-A, 336, 337 and 338 of the Indian Penal Code. The pace of cases going on in the court is very slow. Bhopal Gas Tragedy Victims Mahila Udyog Sangathan, Bhopal Group for Information and Action are continuously fighting the legal battle of the gas tragedy victims.