D – DAY!!

So the 26th is here, its well past 11.30 IST and the Bhopal Special Games are well underway!

The Games kicked off with a song versifying the theme ” From the East India Company to Dow Chemical Company”, accompanying a poignant BROOM STICK march by the participants – some on their feet and some on wheelchairs assisted by their parents.

To trace the broomstick’s associations with the Bhopal campaign, asserting “Women’s power against Dow Chemical” women leaders of organizations of survivors of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal had launched the “Jhadoo Maaro Dow Ko” [Beat Dow with brooms] campaign.

“We will take care of all Dow’s designs and all their advisory panels with our jhadoos” said a confident Mrs. Hajra Bi [40] from Jaiprakash Nagar, a community just opposite the Union Carbide factory. She described their current plans to collect used brooms from individual households in the affected communities and deliver them to Dow Chemical’s head quarters in Mumbai.

 “We will bury Dow in a mountain of Jhadoos so they know that they cant survive in this country unless they clean up the continuing mess in Bhopal”, said a confident Mrs. Sheila Thakur [50] who is still grieving the death of her severely exposed husband after years of confinement in bed. Mrs. Sheila played a prominent role in the relay fast that was joined by over 1500 hunger strikers from ten different countries. She described their plans to visit different parts of the country to launch a nation-wide ‘Jhadoo Maaro Dow Ko” campaign. “The broom is one of every woman’s personal weapon against injustice. We will turn it in to a political weapon for justice in the worst corporate crime in history” said Mrs. Sheila.

The inaugural song went thus :

From East India Company to Dow Chemical Company

The East India company unleashed depression on Indians. It won the Battle of Plassey and started capturing India. It collected taxes from Indians and sent it to Britain.

In 1770, there was a serious famine in Bengal. The company stipulates cultivation of Indigo and opium. Because the cultivation of paddy stopped, people died of hunger. In all the famines created by the British, over 50 million Indians died. Now the British rulers are supporting Dow Chemicals.

Don’t help them”, said Winston Churchill. “If you help them, they will never do any work. They breathe like rabbits, these Indians”. They paid no attention to the starving millions and sent 71000 tonnes of food grains to Sri Lanka. Raised taxes while people were still dying and now the British Government is supporting Dow Chemicals.

In 1857, Dalhousie came to India. The British attacked Jhansi. They got Tantia Tope and Lakshmibhai killed. They hung Mangal Pandey. Thousands were massacred in Delhi. “Divide and rule” was the policy they followed. And now the British Govt. is supporting Dow Chemicals.

Now listen to the stories of the brutalities of Dyer. He spilt the blood of innocent people. He ordered shooting on the people in the meeting at Jallianwala Bagh. Over a thousand were killed that day, and he earned praise for this massacre. Never did he express any regret for what he had done. And today, the British govt. is supporting Dow Chemicals.

Now listen to the story of the gas disaster, because of which people are still suffering. 25000 people have died, and the city has turned into a graveyard. There was an order for the arrest of Anderson. Poisons from Carbide’s hazardous waste have gone into the ground water. In the exposed population, children are being born with deformities. People are still denied justice, health and adequate compensation. Meanwhile, the British govt. is helping Dow Chemicals. The British Prime Minister should not have defended Dow. There is much for every Britisher to be ashamed o . Union Carbide Company committed a horrible crime, and this criminal company was purchased by Dow. The British govt. showed no love for humanity. Now, the gas affected people are seeking justice. Through its sponsorship, Dow chemicals has stained the Olympics. And the British govt, has supported the sponsorship.

And the chief guest, ex-Hockey gold medallist and Olympian Aslam Sher Khan had this to say : 

“Children who have come to take part in Bhopal Special Olympics, their proud parents and sisters and brothers who have come to watch the games and encourage these players! As you know, I am a sportsperson, and a sportsperson does sports and not speeches, but you have invited me as a chief guest, and asked me to speak. So today, I will speak on the when, where, why and what of today’s Special Games.
First about ‘WHEN’. As you all know, tomorrow on the 27th July, the Olympic games will begin in London. Olympics is special in itself. It is not just a game. It’s a philosophy of life. The sheer joy of making an effort is encouraged through the Olympic Games, and it pays respect to fundamental ethical values. It is an effort for bettering humanity, creating a peaceful society where humanity is resoected. The Olympic Games pay respect to human rights and it asserts the right to play without discrimination as a human right. The Olympics doesn’t consider your race, your religion, whether you are a man or a woman and the kind of politics you believe in. Olympics sends out a message of solicarity and friendship. Am not saying these things about Olympics by myself. The Olympics originated about a 118 years back. Since then, thinking people from all over the world have contributed their ideas. With the change of situation in the world, its fundamental values have been defined. All that I have said about the Olympic games have been mentioned clearly and in detail in the Olympic Charter.
The next question is – where? As you all know and you can yourself see, this stadium is at the back of the abandoned Union Carbide Factory, so close that a good hit with a hockey stick can send the ball right into the factory. 25000 Bhopalis were poisoned by the toxins on that fateful day. The most painful fact is that even after 3rd December 1984, the factory has not stopped causing damage. Even today, 28 years after the disaster, lethal poisons from the factory are leaching into the soil and the water. Because of the parents’ exposure to poisonous gases, children are born with disabilities, and hundreds of children are also being born disabled because of the contamination of ground water due to thousands of tonnes of hazardous waste buried in and wound the factory. Recent scientific studies have shown that, there are cancer and birth defect causing chemicals in the ground water, upto 3 kms from the factory. Till recently, upto 40,000 residents from the neighbourhood of the factory were drinking water laced with chemicals that damage the kidneys, lungs, liver, brain and other organs.
The third question is why – Why are we organising this event today? Friends, it is a bitter truth that most of the world forgot about Bhopal and the Bhopalis after the gas disaster of 1984. Union Carbide abandoned the factory and went off to America. But, the hazardous waste that the company had recklessly dumped, is leaching poisons into the groundwater and soil. Nobody paid attention to this, and the poison kept spreading. In 2001, another American company, the Dow Chemical Company, took over Union Carbide. Thus Dow Chemicals inherited the liability for environmental damage. But this corporation that has billions of dollars and is the largest chemical corporation in the world, is refusing is fulfil its liabilities. Dow says it bought only Union Carbide, not its liabilities. Thus this chemical company is committing a crime against humanity, and as you can all see, a crime against unborn children
I am an Olympian and as an Olympian, I am ashamed that the organisers of the Oympic Games have made Dow Chemicals a sponsor till 2020. Instead of spending dollars on protecting the children of Bhopal from poisons, Dow Chemicals has given a 100 million dollars for the Olympics. This is a betrayal of the fundamental principles that I mentioned before of the Olympic Games. I and 25 of my fellow Olympians wrote to the organisers of the Olympic Games and requested them not to make Dow Chemicals a Sponsor, and provide it with an opportunity to greenwash its crimes. But the organisers which include British Olympians such as Sebastian Coe did not respond to our letter, let alone drop Dow as a sponsor.
The 4th question is WHAT – What are we Bhopal people affected by poisonous gases are doing for humanity? What are we doing against the pollution of the principles of the Olympics. We are organising a Special Games, and the people who are participating in the Games are children who are victims of Dow Chemicals. These children have been poisoned during the most vulnerable period of their existence, and through their sports, they are telling Dow Chemicals, despite your poisons, we are alive today. Not just alive, we are struggling against the difficulties that we are born with and winning against them. And the crimes that you are trying to greenwash, through our games we are exposing those crimes. As an Olympian, and particularly as a Bhopali Olympian, today I am proud that these children are keeping the spirit of the Olympics alive. I salute the spirit of these children, their courage and their sheer enjoyment in making the effort. Thank you!”

 

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