The Lok Sabha election campaign started on December 1, 1984, and I decided to start working in Patna and make my way to Amethi in the Sultanpur area in Uttar Pradesh.
While in Patna on December 3, I heard on the radio: 30 dead in gas leak in Bhopal. Ignored it and took the plane to Lucknow.
Drove towards Sultanpur to arrive at a dhaba by 9 p.m. On a black-and-white TV, saw the most bizarre news footage of dead people being wheeled on wooden handcarts. Toll: 120 dead. Decided to go to Bhopal.
Maybe it is a denial, a kind of guilt that I have not been able to do enough on a personal individual level for the people, the situation.
And that is I guess the shallowness of 95 per cent of the journalism we do. We all tend to walk away. It’s the next story that we look to and the story is just a story.
This experience really scared me. Showed the ugly side of modern development and what corporate greed and negligence was all about.
How profit and bowing to the almighty buck could poison, maim and kill. Somewhere the message about large corporates, multinationals and governments in collusion came through so clear that it echoes and resonates even now. Look at all the mining in the tribal areas, all the genetically modified foods that we will be eating.
Look what is happening right now in America. Another manmade disaster has unfolded and there still doesn’t seem to be a fix for it.
The writer is an internationally renowned photojournalist based in New Delhi.