Indian Decade

Bhopal Shock Goes On

Indians are still shocked at the lenient sentences handed out over the Bhopal gas tragedy.

Over the past week, there’s been fervent nationwide indignation and shock over the lenient judgement handed out over the 1984 Bhopal gas leak case. As Sanjay mentioned yesterday, the Bhopal disaster is considered the world's worst-ever industrial catastrophe, with almost 3000 people dying from exposure to the noxious gas in the immediate aftermath. Some claim more than 30,000 people have been affected since, with some families now cursed with the generational genetic impact.

And as Sanjay also suggests, the Bhopal incident also connotes possibly the most grievous injustice. Last week, the eight Indians accused over the gas tragedy case were sentenced to two years in prison for causing death due to negligence. A day after, the seven convicted (one has died) were granted bail and released on a surety of Rs. 25,000 (about $500). The judgement triggered a wave of shock and anger, with several skeletons threatening to fall out of the closet, hinting at a sordid story of government collusion, judicial apathy and corporate greed to try and save the big guns at Union Carbide, including its famous chairman Warren Anderson.

Activists around the world have decried the Indian government's inability to get justice for its citizens. In India, too, there’s dismay that Indian lives have been sold on the cheap. Amid such furore, senior journalist Vir Sanghvi's article on this subject in The Hindustan Times, attempts to analyse how India allowed this travesty of justice to take place. He also manages to strike a rare positive note, ending his piece by saying, ‘That may have been something we tolerated 25 years ago. But not now. And never ever again.’

It's a belief none of us in India can afford to renege on.