[DEBATE] : CACIM DELHI DEMOS BULLETIN / CDDB 15 : Bhopal struggle launches indefinite fast in Delhi and USA / The forgotten people of the world / A fragment in the diary of a struggle
jai.sen at cacim.net
Tue Apr 11 14:43:56 BST 2006
>From New Delhi, Tuesday, April 11, 2006
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CACIM DELHI DEMOS BULLETIN / CDDB 15 : Bhopal struggle launches indefinite
fast in Delhi and USA / The forgotten people of the world / A fragment in
the diary of a struggle
The day has come. The Bhopal movement got no response from the government
even after so many days of meeting people, so many discussions, so much
entreaty, and so it has gone on strike from this morning, as it has been
announcing. See item  in this issue.
So both movements in the Jantar Mantar area are now on an indefinite hunger
strike. Even if they have not cooperated too closely over these past weeks,
they are now, whether they like it or not, in the same boat; or rather, in
the same river. Their issue demands may not be the same, but what they are
essentially demanding of the world, and of the state, is the same : The
right to live, and the right to die, if need be, struggling for what is
right. They are meeting together this evening, to see how to move.
So far, the Indian state and exhibited perhaps most clearly in the
behaviour of the Prime Minister, who has so far been everyone¹s darling for
being / seeming to be such a civilised man has been utterly callous.
Unfortunately, there is very little that suggests that it is going to change
in its stance. To the opposite, there is every sign that it is going to
tough it out, hoping to crush the movements, body and spirit, in the course
of this stand-off. Including slapping a charge on Medha Patkar, of the
crime of trying to commit suicide, a step that would be laughable if the
situation were not so grim. But this simple action reveals so much of how
this government thinks.
As featured in CDDB 13, activists and supporters of the Narmada movement
yesterday made a call to the nation¹, summoning people of conscience to
come to Delhi for a major convergence tomorrow, April 12. It remains to be
seen what the response is. In the meanwhile, they have also called a
strategy meeting at the site this evening, and where they have also invited
the Delhi movement to join. Even if this part has perhaps not been very
well prepared (as item 3 in this issue, a report from and on the Delhi
struggle suggests), this invitation is very welcome. Even if they have
different demands on the surface, the different movements have much the same
Given the general marginalisation of politics today, and given moreover the
massive marginalisation that is taking place today in India of the labouring
and working sections of society from social and economic processes, the only
way they are going to be able to make ground is if they are willing to look
at each other¹s sectional interests and find common ground. United, they
might just make some ground; divided, the prospect does not look too good.
All this happens even while we wait for news from the central government on
its position within respect to the Sardar Sarovar dam. The fact finding
team came back on April 8-9; its position was widely expected on the 11th;
and today it is the 12th, and no news, even yet. The official excuse is
apparently that today is a public holiday. Why do those on hunger fast find
it so difficult to understand such things ?
In this issue of CDDB :
 Bhopal victims & supporters launch indefinite fast in Delhi
and USA (April 11)
 Forgotten People (April 11)
 A fragment in the diary of a struggle (April 11)
Note : All back issues of this Bulletin (the CACIM Delhi Demos Bulletin),
number 0 onwards, are available @ :
Bhopal victims & supporters launch indefinite fast in Delhi and USA
On 11.4.06 2:53 pm, "Shai Yashwant" <shaiyashwant at yahoo.com> wrote on
remember-bhopal list :
11 April, 2006. New Delhi : Six people including three victims of Union
Carbide and three supporters, today began an indefinite fast and resolved to
end it only when the Government addresses the long-standing charter of
Bhopal demands. The six hunger strikers Shehazadi Bee (49), Champa Devi
Shukla (54), Sanjay Verma (21), Satinath Sarangi (52), Satish Kumar (51) and
Rachna Dhingra (28) -- are part of a 46-person team that walked 800 km from
Bhopal to New Delhi in 33 days to underscore their demands and give adequate
notice to the Government. Despite repeated requests, Mr. Manmohan Singh has
refused to meet the Bhopalis stating that he has nothing to say to them.
³The Government cannot ignore us. We have come here for justice, and we¹re
not leaving without it,² said Shehazadi Bee. Supporters in Austin, Boston,
Seattle, Washington D.C. and Houston will hold candle-light vigils to
support Bhopal activists.
Testifying to the massive international support enjoyed by the Bhopal
campaign, two youth Josh Imeson (French/American national, age 28) and
Sebastian Juarez (French, age 20) will join the Bhopal hunger strike for
three days. On 13 April, 2006, Imeson and Juarez will hand over the fast to
Diane Wilson, a Texan fisherwoman-activist, who will begin an indefinite
fast in Austin, Texas, in support of the Bhopal demands. Wilson, a long-time
Bhopal supporter will travel around the United States to highlight the
collusion between the Indian and US Governments, and the US Corporations to
shortchange the victims of the world¹s worst industrial disaster. Last
month, Wilson completed 150 days in a Texas jail for hanging a ³Justice for
Bhopal² banner in 2002 off a tower at Dow Chemical¹s plant in Seadrift,
Texas. In 2002, Diane went on a 28-day fast along with Bhopal survivors and
managed to mobilise more than 1000 people to fast in solidarity. The
Government of India was forced to accede to the Bhopali demands.
³As citizens and youth from industrialised countries, we believe we have a
responsibility to challenge the anti-poor, anti-environment development
policies pushed by our countries. The Union Carbide disaster is the most
vulgar expression of the ills of globalisation, and that is why we¹re moved
to joining the Bhopalis in their hunger strike,²
Imeson and Juarez said. Already, more than 120 people from 10 countries
including China, Switzerland, Canada, UK, France, Germany, USA, Ireland,
Spain, and Singapore have signed up via www.bhopal.net
<http://www.bhopal.net/ <http://www.bhopal.net/> > to fast in solidarity
with the Bhopalis. Depending on the response from the Indian Government, the
campaign may escalate with vigils and demonstrations at Indian embassies
around the world. In India, solidarity protests targeting the unyielding UPA
Government are being held in four places in Tamilnadu, in Trivandrum, Pune,
Mumbai, Kolkata and Vizag.
Two of the six hunger strikers Shehazadi Bee and Champa Devi -- in New
Delhi are affected both by the gas and by contaminated drinking water.
Sanjay Verma is one of 28 known Bhopal disaster orphans, and a member of
Bhopal Ki Awaaz an organisation of youth orphaned during the disaster. He
lost his parents, three sisters and two brothers on the night of the
disaster. He was one year old at the time of the disaster. Satinath Sarangi
came to Bhopal right after the disaster, and has been involved in relief,
research and campaign. He is a founder-trustee of Sambhavna Trust Clinic
which provides free treatment to 200 gas victims daily. Rachna Dhingra moved
into Bhopal three years ago, after she completed her studies at University
of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she helped set up a Bhopal support group and
push through the first campus resolution on Bhopal in the US. Satish Kumar,
a resident of Trivandrum, is a filmmaker and activist who has been
associated with the Bhopal campaign from the early days. He was involved in
a health study five years post-disaster and published a report called
³Against All Odds.²
The Bhopal campaign has demanded that because Union Carbide is an absconder
in the eyes of Indian courts, Dow and Union Carbide should be barred from
introducing into India any processes, technologies or products developed by
or owned by Union Carbide.
Besides this demand, the Bhopalis are demanding clean water, clean up of
contamination, a coordinating agency with power and finances to implement
medical and economic rehabilitation programs, setting up of a special
prosecution cell to pursue the criminal case against Union Carbide and
Warren Anderson among others, and memorialising the disaster by including
the Bhopal story in the educational curricula of schools and colleges.
For more information, contact:
Nityanand Jayaraman +91 9868474437. Email: nity68 at gmail.com.
Rachna Dhingra. +91 9911289845. Email: rachna at umich.edu
Website: www.bhopal.net <http://www.bhopal.net/ <http://www.bhopal.net/> >
or www.icjb.org <http://www.icjb.org/ <http://www.icjb.org/> >
BIODATA of those who have gone on indefinite hunger strike :
Shehazadi Bee (49) has three sons and three daughters. During the gas leak,
there were six people in her family including herself. Everybody in her
family has some ailment or the other. She was diagnosed with leprosy a few
years back. Her husband is a TB patient. One son has cancer. One daughter
lost her sight because of the gas. One daughter All the grandchildren have
boils all over the body and stomach problems, and all are physically
retarded. They cannot study because they suffer from constant headaches.
Shehazadi too is a resident of Blue Moon Colony.
Sanjay Verma (21) was one year old at the time of the disaster. Of his
family of seven, only three remained. His brother, Sunil, began suffering
from mental disorders in 1998, and has become suicidal since then. Now he is
a loner, and gets anxious when in crowds. Sanjay is in his final year of
undergraduate, and hopes to do a business degree, and chartered accountancy
in the future. His education is being supported by some non-governmental
organisations in Delhi, and he has received no support from the Government
towards his education. He was in the orphanage with his sister, Mamta who is
now 27, until the age of five, while his brother lived in JP Nagar
separately. In July 2005, Sanjay suffered a partial paralytic stroke. He is
otherwise healthy. His sister has some eye-sight problems, and headaches as
a result of that.
Champa Devi Shukla (54) was born in working class family. Her father was
miller in the Gun-Carriage Factory in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. She has
always been poor. At age 13 [8th standard] she helped write a musical about
what would happen if women did the things men do and vice versa. She studied
till the 10th standard [and one among 3 or 4 in the organisation who can
write], and had to drop out of school because the family could not afford to
pay for her education. At 18, she became a teacher in a nursery school. She
and her entire family, including her husband, 3 sons and 2 daughters were
severely exposed to Carbide¹s gases in 1984. She could no longer work in the
factory. Her husband used to be confined to bed and finally died of cancer
of the urinary bladder.
In January 2001 her grand daughter was born with a cleft lip and missing
palate. One of the most active members of her women¹s trade union Bhopal
Gas Affected Women Stationery Workers Association, she has been a leading
participant in all the protest actions including the month long march to New
Delhi in June 1989. In 2003, she, alongwith Rashida Bee, received the
prestigious Goldman Award.
Satinath Sarangi, aka Sathyu, (54) is a metallurgical engineer turned
activist who arrived in Bhopal a day after the disaster and stayed on to
become a key figure in the struggle for justice in Bhopal. He is a founding
trustee of the Sambhavna Clinic, a non-profit clinic dedicated to the
holistic treatment of gas-affected persons in Bhopal. Sathyu has been
involved with relief, research, and publication activities towards the
welfare of the survivors since the disaster.
Rachna Dhingra (28) has been in Bhopal for the last four years, before which
she led one of the first student groups in the US to take up the issue of
Bhopal. She was among an active group of youth in University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor, that paved the way for the passing of a university resolution on
Bhopal. She has since moved to Bhopal and is working full-time assisting
with research, advocacy and organising survivors and water contamination
victims. She is associated with the Bhopal Group for Information and Action.
Josh Imeson (27) has French and American citizenship. He does non-profit
documentary on social justice issues, and became involved in the Bhopal
campaign through his interest in agricultural issues, and concern over the
increased use of agrochemicals. He has been associated with worker movements
in Washington state, and has also campaigned against the corporate take-over
of resources and agriculture. ³The Bhopal disaster and the continued
difficulty that Bhopalis have had in securing justice should send an alarm
signal around the world about delocalisation and globalisation. Citizens of
industrialised countries have a responsibility to ensure that their
lifestyles, Governments and corporations do not hurt those in less
industrialised nations,² he says.
Sebastian Juarez (20) is a French national, who came in contact with the
Bhopalis only recently. Touched by the plight of the Bhopalis, this
high-school graduate hopes to bring to bear some kind of moral pressure to
move the long-pending issues in Bhopal toward resolution. Juarez was part of
a broad-based movement amongst High School students against new laws in
France that threatened to liberalise the school system. ³It is disheartening
to learn that for 20 years, these people have been asking for their basic
rights. I hope my joining the fast will motivate youth and others from my
country to join in solidarity and add to the pressure to hold the guilty
By Joe Athialy
11 April, 2006
The Times of India
India's two best known struggles are waging a battle for justice under the
trees of Jantar Mantar in the capital the Narmada dam oustees and Bhopal
gas victims. Both have a 20-year history, albeit emerging from different
contexts. Having borne the brunt of state brutality and yet remaining
non-violent, they have been documented and recognised by the international
The Bhopal gas tragedy killed more than 7,000 people and injured many within
two or three days. In the last 21 years, at least another 15,000 have died
and more than 1,00,000 suffer from chronic illnesses caused by exposure to
gas. Nobody has been held responsible for the leak till date. The plant site
has not been cleaned. As a result, toxic wastes continue to pollute the
environment and contaminate water that surrounding communities rely on.
In Narmada, the planners considered a geographical area without taking into
account the people and environment for making a cascade of dams, starting
with Sardar Sarovar at the west end of the river.
A considerably good rehabilitation package was prepared and integrated into
the law, but never implemented by the states in letter and spirit. In spite
of non-violent protests, the dam continued to go up. Emotions in favour of
the dam were flared up, sometimes to absurd levels, by the states.
It put the lives and livelihoods of over 44,000 families (or nearly 2.25
lakh people) at peril in western parts of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and
Gujarat, according to official figures. As the World Bank review committee
noted, another three lakh people still await the magic wand for being
recognised as project-affected.
The role of the judiciary in these two issues has been disappointing. It
dragged proceedings for years, its pronouncements on human rights actually
yielding little on the ground. Its refusal to hold people responsible for
violations of law encouraged more violations, and cemented the state's
conviction that they were not accountable to anyone. Calling Narmada Bachao
Andolan Publicity Interest Litigation or Private Inquisitiveness Litigation
was totally uncalled for.
Bhopal or Narmada, by not being able to translate into significant vote
banks, failed to find a meaningful mention in common minimum programmes of
parties or political formations. Till a decade back, the Congress and
Bharatiya Janata Party lent unstinting support to the dam in their election
manifestos in Gujarat. In the case of both the struggles, the Centre and
state governments kept passing the buck, frustrating the people.
Politicians, once out of power, wholeheartedly supported the struggles. When
elected to power, they busied themselves with other things and avoided
In the absence of an active media, these struggles would not have reached
out to a large multitude. In the initial days of the struggle, when sting
operations were confined to Bollywood movies and TRP ratings did not decide
the news, the media had more space and time to report and analyse these
issues. It helped generate a debate in civil society about development,
human rights and state's responsibilities.
But now media would rather devote space and time to details of 'wardrobe
malfunction', and heap scorn on these struggles as the very height of all
impediments. Hence, the over one lakh families rendered homeless due to
demolitions in Mumbai and Delhi, or the hundreds of farmer suicides in many
states, do not come under 'breaking news'. Two groups of protestors sitting
at a distance of a few metres from each other at Jantar Mantar do not invite
much media attention. Nor can they pose any political threat to the
government, though they are only a couple of kilometres away from
Parliament. Their presence in Delhi with demands for a just rehabilitation
speaks volumes for India's human rights record. Unless that record is set
straight, talk of 10 per cent growth or the Sensex crossing 11K does not
make India developed or, for that matter, even civilised.
(The writer is with Amnesty International. Views expressed are personal.)
A fragment in the diary of a struggle
Jai Sen, April 11 2006, reconstructed from a phone exchange with Lalit Batra
of the Hazards Centre, New Delhi, on April 11 2006
[Background : As readers will know from earlier issues of CDDB, and in
passing from Joe Athialy¹s article featured in this issue, parallel to the
Bhopal and Narmada struggles in Delhi there is also a life and death
struggle going on in the city itself, by the working and labouring classes
of the city. (CDDB numbers 0, Some news from Delhi : Sajha Manch Rally
Update¹ (March 30 2006), and 5, Cacim Delhi Demos Update 5 : News Of
Mobilisation Among Urban Dwellers In Delhi (April 6 2006)).
This article attempts to crudely sketch out what has been happening over
these past some days on that front, based on a phone interview with Lalit
Batra of the Hazards Centre, New Delhi, this morning, just before he left
town. Lalit and colleagues are desperately busy; given that they don¹t have
the time right now to write, this article has been written simply in order
to get on record something of where this movement also stands, and also in
relation to the Bhopal and Narmada struggles. I take responsibility for
what is said below, but readers will hopefully excuse any minor errors; and
Lalit is warmly invited to come in as soon as he can with corrections and
Please definitely note however, that the actions outlined in this article
are just one small fragment of a much wider and more sustained struggle that
is mostly going on in the settlements, attempting to resist evictions
certainly those where no rehabilitation if provided. Thousands upon
thousands of people have now been evicted in Delhi over these past some
months, and a large proportion has not got any resettlement and so, since
they are not just going to sit down and die, and cannot just disappear, they
continue to struggle to find a place to live in this city which is
becoming increasingly exclusive, now courtesy the caring attentions of the
justices of the Supreme Court of India (on whose rulings all these
demolitions are taking place, towards the beautification of the city).
The Hazards Centre is perhaps the key civil organisation involved in the
Delhi struggle. At the time of writing, all its main members - along with a
number of people from the settlements of the city - are on their way to
Mumbai, where it is co-organising a major meeting in Mumbai over these next
few days on the so-called Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission¹
yet another central government / neoliberal instrument for renewing
cities¹, aka cleansing them of the labouring and working classes. For a
detailed overview, see :
Lalit Batra, nd c.March 2006 Trajectory of Urban Change in Neo-Liberal
India : The Case of JNNURM¹, in Janata (Mumbai), Annual Number 2006, vol 61
no 1, pp 35-39.]
On April 7th, the Delhi movement gheraoed (surrounded in protest) the DDA
(Delhi Development Authority) office. They had been trying to get an
appointment with the Vice Chairman of the DDA, including by trying to go
through the PA of Ajit Maken, the new Minister for State for Urban
Development in the central government and who has a reputation of being
supportive of the struggles of ordinary people, but nothing was working. So
they finally decided to just barge in, and insist on talking.
So on April 7, about one hundred people barged into the offices of the Vice
Chairman, and sat down on the floor. The people included residents of the
Mandavini settlement, whose homes were demolished on February 23, who got no
resettlement of any kind, and who are presently living on the rubble of
their homes. The DDA officials of course protested, saying that ³not more
than three people are allowed in, how did you get in², and so on.
They were ultimately not able to meet the DDA Vice Chairman, who did not
show up, but he sent the Land Commissioner and the OSD (Officer on Special
Duty) assigned to him. These official gave the usual line, full of vague
assurances. This only led to the people getting angry, and shouting slogans.
The meeting ended with their getting nothing, once again.
On April 8th and 9th, the Banuwalnagar settlement in Pitampura, in East
Delhi, was demolished. Over the past one to one and a half years, the DDA
has generally told people where they would get resettled. This was done on
a basis of eligibility. First, only those who had documents to prove they
lived there, were eligible. Second, those who could show they had been
there since before 1990 got 18 sq metres; those since between 1990 and 1998
got 12.5 sq metres; and those after 1998, nothing.
In this case, the people initially got nothing, but because they had with
them people such as Subhash Bhatnagar of the National Construction Workers
Union (many of them are construction workers), and they were also associated
with the larger Delhi movement, 950 out of the 1,600 households in the
settlements were able to get resettlement, 650 in Bawana and 300 in Narela.
It is almost always the case that something like 30-40 per cent of the
households in settlements are from after 1998, and so get nothing.
On April 8th, the Sajha Manch, a platform for local organisations of workers
and dwellers in Delhi, held a planning meeting, to try and spell out next
steps in the struggle. But this was the same day as the Banuwalnagar
demolition, and so there were very few people there. From Hazards centre,
only Dunu Roy attended. The basic decision taken was that they should
continue to try and meet as many political people as possible. The movement
has been meeting people such as Kapil Sibal (Union Minister) and Ajay Maken
(Union Minister of State, as above), both elected from Delhi, and Jaipal
Reddy (Union Minister for Urban Development). Since Sibal and Maken are
aware that they are losing their mass base as a result of these evictions,
they have shown some interest; there seems to be some sympathy.
In particular, Ajay Maken has been saying that if the movements can prepare
and put forward a draft bill on housing rights, then he will try and push
that. So the Delhi movement is now beginning work on this, and drawing on
the draft bill prepared by the NCHR (National Campaign for Housing Rights)
back in 1992 as well as subsequent related efforts by others in this field.
The movement is also feeling the need to work more closely with V P Singh,
former Prime Minister and around whom the Jan Chetna Manch (People¹s
Consciousness Platform¹) has grown, who is perhaps the only politician with
whom the working and labouring classes seem to want to work.
In terms of relations with the Bhopal and Narmada struggles, Lalit Batra
agrees that it would have been very useful if there were stronger links.
>From the Hazards Centre, they have been talking with some activists in both
movements, but the response from the people of Delhi has been very lukewarm
to this. They are supportive, but they are not participating.
One reason of course is that evictions are going on. But this is not enough.
The lack of interest may also have to do with communication problems.
People seem to have a sense that Well, something is going on there, but
others are going, so we don't need to go.¹ There is in fact going to be a
strategy meeting in Jantar Mantar this evening, looking towards building
something larger, and the Sajha Manch has promised to get representatives of
some 20-30 groups there for the meeting.
At the same time, the Manch has been getting very little news from the
Narmada and Bhopal struggles. If the two movements are serious about
building a larger front then the Delhi movement should be getting many more
calls and much more information. That has not been happening, so far.
CACIM India Institute for Critical Action : Centre in Movement
A-3 Defence Colony, New Delhi 110 024, India
Ph 91-11-5155 1521, 2433 2451
Eml cacim at cacim.net
Web www.cacim.net <http://www.cacim.net>
THINGS TO CHECK OUT :
* FORTHCOMING in 2006 :
> * Nayi Rajniti (New Politics¹), Hindi edition of Talking New Politics, Sen
> and Saini, eds 2005
> * Nayi Subah Ki Or (Towards A New Dawn¹), volume 1 of Hindi edition of World
> Social Forum : Challenging Empires
> * Are Other Worlds Possible ? Books 2 & 3 - Interrogating Empires¹ &
> Imagining Alternatives¹
* Open Space Webspace : www.openspaceforum.net
* WSFDiscuss an open discussion listserve on the World Social Forum and
cultures of politics in movements : Send an empty email to
worldsocialforum-discuss-subscribe at openspaceforum.net
* Out in 2005-6 : World Social Forum : Challenging Empires - in German,
Japanese, Spanish, and now in Hindi and Urdu !
January 2005 : 'Are Other Worlds Possible ? Talking NEW Politics'
Preview : http://www.choike.org/nuevo_eng/informes/2487.html
Publishers : Zubaan / zubaanwbooks at vsnl.net
Tel: +91-11-2652 1008, 2686 4497, and 2651 4772
In late 2004 :¹Explorations in Open Space : The World Social Forum and
Cultures of Politics¹
Issue 182 of the International Social Science Journal
Editorial advisers : Chloé Keraghel & Jai Sen
2004 Book : 'World Social Forum : Challenging Empires'
Edited by Jai Sen, Anita Anand, Arturo Escobar, and Peter Waterman
India / South Asia distribution : Viveka Foundation,
info at vivekafoundation.org, viveka4 at vsnl.com
2005 : NOW OUT also in German, Japanese, Spanish, and forthcoming in Hindi
CACIM India Institute for Critical Action : Centre in Movement
A-3 Defence Colony, New Delhi 110 024, India
Em jai.sen at cacim.net - PLEASE NOTE MY NEW EDDRESS !
[+ while travelling, ALSO jai_sen2000 at yahoo.com]
M 91-98189 11325
T 91-11-4155 1521 and 2433 2451 Please note change in one phone no
T 977-1-437 0019 and 437 0112
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