Bhopal gas victims take the musical route to protest

July 7th, 2008 - 7:22 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Manmohan Singh

New Delhi, July 7 (IANS) Bhopal gas tragedy victims, who have been protesting in the capital to demand rehabilitation and compensation for themselves and their children, have now found a new way to voice their demands and express their anguish - music. Singer Rahul Ram of fusion band Indian Ocean performed for their cause Monday - the latest to join their protest through music.

Completing more than 100 days of protest at Jantar Mantar, the old observatory that is also a tourist destination near the capital’s business centre Connaught Place, the 80-100 odd Bhopal gas tragedy survivors have had a number of musicians voicing support for them.

“We have called these performances ‘Music to break Silence’. Singers like Rahul Ram and Rabbi Shergill, besides bands like Jigri, have performed for us, supporting our cause and taking the message across to the masses through their voice,” Satinath Sarangi, an activist who has been at the forefront of the movement along with the survivors, told IANS.

“Today’s performance by a few Sufi singers including Ram is yet another of such an attempt,” he added.

Bringing a tear to the eys of passers-by and a smile to the protestors’ lips - for a reinstated belief that they have support - the music does more than just spread awareness about the survivors’ tale. It attempts to heal the deep wounds that have been left open for long.

The Bhopal gas disaster, the world’s worst industrial disaster, took place on Dec 2-3, 1984. A Union Carbide pesticide plant leaked over 40 tonnes of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas, killing at least 3,800 people and affecting many more.

Apart from rehabilitation for the survivors, the protesters have also been demanding legal action against Dow Chemical that now owns Union Carbide. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had earlier issued a statement that said the government agreed with their demand of rehabilitation “in principle”.

“The Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh, who is also the head of the Group of Ministers on the Bhopal tragedy, told us that within three more days the group will release their report after studying the present day conditions of the survivors of the tragedy,” Sarangi said.

“After releasing the report it will take another 11 days minimum for the cabinet to approve the report,” he added.

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