A Despicable Genocide

Gobinda Krishna Nanda

The death of Warren Anderson apparently puts a lid on  the ghoulish Bhopal gas tragedy that verily laid bare the haplessness of a 'Sovereign' State/Country which is so vulnerable against the pressure from the sole super power to release (let go) the person whose culpability was no less than the despicable war criminals of the World War-II who were very seriously charged of genocide and running the concentration camps. The Bhopal incident resembles something like the concentration camps as well.

The devastation in Bhopal in the 1984 is no less in magnitude in the context of loss of human lives and the aftermath tantamount to the deleterious effects of a dirty bomb. The scary condition is often reminiscent of Hiroshima or Nagasaki as the horror later transpired in the public domain, albeit, it appears that all sorts of deliberate attempts were made by the respective State and Central governments to cover it up. Those poor people, who were worst hit and are still fighting for justice even after thirty years of the appalling incident with little or no hope for success. Alas, their own government/s did not stand for them; rather they may be apprehensive that their governments' stand is just the reverse to theirs. It is, as it were, do anything in India and get away with little or no compensation or punishment as may be applicable.

In those two Japanese cities, people en masse were burnt alive in the radio-active fire of the nascent nuclear bombs; people here in Bhopal were en masse poisoned to their destiny. The entire city of Bhopal had turned into a concentration camp of much bigger and greater size (area and population). The consequences, as apparent from the available data, are almost the same. The only difference is that, the USA helped a war ravaged Japan to reclaim its place in the world; the people here in Bhopal still long for justice which eludes them perpetually. And, till date, they engender genetically defective children. The signs similar to the deleterious effects of radio-activity found in Bhopal are,

(i) Rates of miscarriage increased by 530%;
(ii) Parents give birth to genetically defective children, till date.

If the cases like Arun Ferreira's are juxtaposed (A human rights activist who was arrested on charges of Naxalism and eleven cases were gradually foisted upon him. Later he was acquitted on all charges from the courts), a common citizen of this country will be flummoxed to observe the stark difference between being an ordinary citizen and a high profile foreign corporate personality of a developed country. The laws of the land allow a person responsible for genocide and the birth of genetically defective children for years to let away with no punishment at all; but thousands of innocent civilians are languishing in jails under the repressive and draconian laws like the UAPA, POTA etc and being arrested and re-arrested and re-rearrested as a measure of the State's unleashed persecution and terror. This discrimination is horrific and outrageous as well.

There is the example of Michael Peter Fay, the American boy, who had to face punishment in Singapore by committing a mischief there which is but a crime under Singaporean law. He was charged with theft and vandalism. Fay pleaded guilty in both the cases. He later maintained that he never vandalised cars but admitted the charge of theft. He was punished under the 1966 Vandalism Act on March 3, 1994 to four months in jail, a fine of 3,500 Singaporean dollars and six strokes of cane.

The then US President Bill Clinton called Fay's punishment extreme and mistaken and pressured the Singa-porean government to grant Fay clemency from caning. Two dozen US senators signed a letter to the Singaporean government also appealing for clemency. Finally, the then and now late president of Singapore commuted Fay's caning from six to four strokes as a gesture of respect toward Clinton.

This very incident delineates the true meaning of sovereignty although this very country is too tiny, a city state to be precise, to be visible in the world map. This country, although economically very sound, is awfully small in comparison to the economic, political and military might of India. But, its dignity as a sovereign country stands much higher as is evident from the above incident.

One may logically conclude that it was but an accident which claimed and devastated so many lives for generations in Bhopal. But the point is whether all the safety and precautionary measures were properly in place to prevent a calamity of such magnitude, which has been a common practice in all developed countries all along. There lies the culpability of the case which demands huge compensation and rehabilitation for the victims and severe punitive measures for the miscreants/culprits according to the most stringent prevailing law befitting to the crime. Unfortunately, that did not happen. The amount of compensation doled out to the people who are affected physically, mentally and economically beyond the end of their tether was ridiculously insufficient, the punishment imposed on the guilty was mostly a token one and Warren Anderson was never presented before any 'subaltern' Indian court. Egalitarian principle to the rich and powerful seems to be a matter of jest and jeer.

It also appears that the cover up operation has many shades (of colour). Some contemporary news papers reported by quoting the experts just after a few days of the incident that MIC gas was not strong and deadly enough to cause the disaster of such a degree. There must have to be the presence of the infamous phosgene gas (A plant operator Mohammad Ashraf Khan died after having been exposed to a deadly phosgene gas spill in 1981. Another phosgene gas leak occurred in 1982), got mixed with MIC, hydrogen cyanide etc to wreck such havoc. Till now, people only know that MIC gas is responsible for such a catastrophic disaster.

It is further interesting to note that many people are still suffering from the toxic effects as the area of the plant is still contaminated with mercury and other carcinogenic substances. The current owner of Union Carbide, Dow Chemicals, refuses to decontaminate the soil. Greenpeace has estimated the cost of decontamination around thirty million USD.

The way with which Warren M Anderson was let away so easily after such a genocidal act, bolsters the notion of complicity and callousness of India's political leadership as well as the Union and the respective State government. Such incidents further the conviction that the long hand of law falls short to get hold of the collars of the rich and the powerful.

The role of the Apex court here was as unfortunate as in the Vodafone Tax case which created commotion a few years back. In that case it also had been observed that how a legislature can be scrapped, or, euphemistically, postponed to benefit the big Multi-national Corporate houses. Definitely the two cases cannot be compared, for, the magnitude of loss in the case of Union Carbide is too large and multi-faceted in comparison to the Vodafone Tax case, where only monetary loss was incurred by the government. The resemblance lies in the handling of big Multi-national Corporate houses by the 'entrusted' and 'efficient' State machinery of the world's 'largest' democracy.

It is curious to fancy that, had this case happened in the USA where Mr Anderson has breathed his last, what could have happened to him. It can certainly be concluded that his experience in that case would have been quite different. He might have died an ignominious death in an American prison.

Such incidents happen only when the government acts at the behest of big national and multi-national (indigenous and foreign, as well) corporate including developed countries whereas the land, property, income, environment and even the lives of the sons of the soil are sacrificed at the altar of parochial business interests. The numbers of the affected people vary so vastly in this case because there are no exact figures about how many people lived in the neighbourhood of the plant. Worse still, was that the government stymied and suppressed any such assessment by independent agencies. Perhaps Union Carbide has used India, for, security standards and wages were low and so is its corrupt system. Now, it is time to watch whether the government continues to abet such diabolical plots or work for its people in the true sense of the term.

1.    Ferreira, Arun: The Colours of the Cage.
2.   Frontline, November 28, 2014.
3.   Frontline, December 26, 2014.
7. 6656265.ece.
9. chDlQ.shtml
11.   www.toxiDedia.ora/dlSDlav/toxiDedia/BhoDai+Disaster

Estimates of Casualties in Hiroshima and Nagasaki


As a result of the governments' hyperactive cover up operations in the Bhopal disaster case, there are diverse and confusing data from different sources which are given below

Total Affected People


Frontline, Dec. 26, 2014: P-116



1,50,000- 6,00,000

Vol. 48, No. 4, Aug 2 - 8, 2015