In the wake of the recent Bhopal judgment against UCIL and its officials, the general public's outrage and the media's continuous coverage are a bit soothing after all these years of snubbing the survivors' struggle.

Since I am an optimistic person, I would like to think that people's questioning will make our government accountable; that the government and the legal system will ensure corporate accountability notwithstanding their nationality; and that our democracy (Parliament, Cabinet, bureaucracy, legal system, and media) will serve the interest of the poorest of the poor.

Keeping the issue alive, the aam aadmi and the media will not relent until the survivors of the Bhopal disaster have access to good medical rehabilitation programmes and clean water. Besides, there are issues such as clean-up of the highly-polluted site and making Dow (which bought the Union Carbide) pay for the clean-up in addition to the other liabilities. Then comes the all-important question of extradition of Warren Anderson.

By the way, I would like to see an apology made to the survivors, and the deceased families by our governments, the Supreme Court, UCC, Dow Chemical, and UCIL.

In the past 26 years of struggle, what touched me most is that women of all ages in Bhopal kept this struggle alive for this long period with the help of known and unknown dedicated volunteers/activists. Though the survivors' plight is heart-wrenching, their spirit is undefeatable. Their consciousness is at such great heights that they didn't want any other human being suffer like they did. Their struggle for justice, though a thorny and unending journey, never left the path, and still continues.

The survivors, including women and children, marched on foot from Bhopal to Delhi — a distance of around 800 km — to present their case three times, in 1989, 2006, and 2008; the women and children were beaten up by police and put into jail in Delhi and Bhopal on a number of occasions; their struggle was ridiculed from time to time; they were treated like culprits rather than as victims; and though they keep losing their loved ones continuously every month, every year, their relentless struggle for justice goes on.

I met Rashida Bee in Delhi in their camp in 2008. Her strength of character is inspirational for one and all. Though she lost six of her family members to the disaster and contamination, her indomitable spirit continues to guide and support other survivors. She seems to reflect the spirit of all the women survivors and their community in Bhopal. She travelled not only to many places in India but worldwide as well and received the Goldman Environmental Award (equivalent to the Nobel Prize) with the other survivor leader, Champa Devi, in San Francisco, U.S. While receiving the award, she declared that the women of Bhopal were not flowers but flames. Yes, flames which will consume all the wrongdoing.

What did they do with the award money? They created a trust fund to support the women struggling similarly across the country. Talk about sharing and giving, and I wonder: what did we give these amazing women except the sheer injustice and betrayal?

(ram_sandy@yahoo.com)

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