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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Bhopal gas tragedy: 28 yrs on, they are still victims

Shruti Tomar, Sravani Sarkar and Ashutosh Shukla, Hindustan Times  Bhopal, December 02, 2012
First Published: 16:40 IST(2/12/2012) | Last Updated: 23:42 IST(2/12/2012)

The Bhopal gas tragedy on the night of 3 December, 1984, killed 15,274 people. But those who were yet to be born, were left with a life worse than death.

While the exact number of children born with congenital defects is not available, they are struggling to become self-reliant - often without any help from the state government.

The neglect shows most in the case of the most courageous - those who chose sports to prove their mettle.

Sachin, 19, is unable to stand without support but he has won gold in tri-cycle races. "At least the government can treat us like normal sportspersons, who receive a lot of appreciation and support," he said.

"Despite winning 72 medals in national events, these players never received any honour," said coach Tarique Ahmed. "They need proper infrastructure, training and exposure, which is not possible without government support. They also need jobs."

Twelve-year-old Payal Razak is a case in point. The hearing and speech impaired child is a gold winning sprinter - despite the lack of proper training. She wanted to win medals at the international level, Payal expressed in sign language.

"We have written asking for jobs and prize money for the children of gas victims who brought laurels for the state, but we didn't receive any reply from the department of social justice," said Dipankar Banerjee, commissioner (disability).

No compensation yet
On the night of December 3, 1984, three uniformed men stood tall to ensure that the maximum people could be saved from the world's worst industrial disaster. The poisonous methyl isocyanate gas left them with nausea, suffocation and red, watering eyes. But they had not a thought to spare for themselves - or their families back home.

All three survived - but their health complications continue. And to add insult to injury, none of them were given any compensation, let alone recognition.

Retired additional SP Surendra Singh Thakur, then in-charge of Hanumanganj police station, retired DSP Naseem Khan, then in-charge of Gunga police station and ex-army man from J&K, Ghulam Mohi-ud-Din Wani, then captain with the 3EME centre infantry in Bhopal, are bitter men today.

The ground for barring the two police officers from compensation was that they did not appear for the hearing in the claims court. The officers said they never received any communication on the subject.

Wani received multiple communications. But when he approached the officials, he was told no letter was sent to him. In February 2011, his case was closed, citing a Supreme Court order of March 2001.

"I lost one of my kidneys and still suffer from lung and eye problems," Wani said on telephone from Bandipura in J&K.

"At least a compensation would have been an endorsement of my efforts," Thakur said from Jabalpur.

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