Survivors miss ace fighter on Bhopal tragedy anniv

Women hold candles during a vigil to mark the 35th anniversary of the Bhopal gas disaster, in Bhopal. (Reuters photo)

Bhopal gas tragedy victims sorely missed the presence of the indefatigable activist Abdul Jabbar, as the city observed the 35th anniversary of the world’s worst industrial disaster. Abdul Jabbar died of multiple ailments during treatment in a private hospital on November 12 at the age of 62.

Jabbar was a leading activist, whose relentless fight for justice for victims of the tragedy helped keep the memory of the disaster alive. His organisation, 'Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangthan', was mainly credited for getting over five lakh gas victims enhanced compensation, dedicated hospitals, houses for widows and clean water in the gas-affected localities.

His absence was conspicuous, as protest marches and an all-religion prayer meeting marked the 35th anniversary of the tragedy here on Tuesday.

The leak of 40 tonnes of deadly methyl iso-cyanate gas from Union Carbide's pesticide plant in Bhopal on the intervening night of December 2 and 3, 1984, killed over 5,000 people instantly and maimed nearly five lakhs with a varying degree of health hazards.

There are tens of thousands of survivors who are suffering from cancer, blindness, respiratory diseases and neurological disorders as a result of inhaling the toxic gas.

Gas victims organised rallies with placards that read "No More Bhopal" to the abandoned union carbide factory premises. Children of survivors presented a musical drama about the tragedy, its fallout and the problems being faced by the survivors.

They demanded adequate compensation and proper medical treatment for the survivors, and stringent punishment for those responsible for the disaster.

Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information & Action said, "Till today there are no standardized treatment protocols for medical rehabilitation, no effective plans to provide gainful employment or monthly pension to the needy and no initiative to ensure safe living environment for the survivors of the disaster."

Nousheen Khan of the Children Against Dow Carbide, said industrial pollution is one of the top five causes of death worldwide, and environmental diseases are growing at an alarming rate.

Earlier, an all-religion prayer meet was held at Barkatullah Bhawan to pay homage to the victims of the gas leak. Madhya Pradesh Governor Lalji Tandon and some ministers participated in the prayer meet.

"We all, as members of civil society, have the responsibility not to allow such a disaster to happen again," said Tandon. 

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