We have had nothing to hide from the start. The work we did following the Bhopal gas tragedy was always in the public domain. We knew that Stratfor works for the US army and other departments of the state long before Wikileaks revealed this. Even before Union Carbide was bought by Dow Chemicals, they collected clippings and any news items on us and filed them for reference. We had filed a case in the US federal court in November 1999 against Union Carbide and in the course of investigations we found clippings marked “useful to us” by Carbide officials. They even submitted news clippings to the courts that claimed we had received huge amounts to fight Carbide and had stashed it in a Swiss account.
But since Dow took over, matters have been taken to another level, vis-a-vis the activists. The company started filing cases against us. They also keep increasing their demand for defamation charges. But things started changing for us too—since 9/11, the media in the US has started focusing on corporates.
If Dow has Stratfor, Union Carbide officials had senior ministers like the Bhopal gas relief minister Babulal Gaur and others who, I am convinced, are now too helping Dow Chemicals. Not less than 15 studies (some done by the Central Pollution Control Board) revealed high levels of contamination in water and soil and their impact on the human body. Mr Gaur refused to even acknowledge the study. Way back, he even got a letter from Union Carbide which talked about how some people in Bhopal were making a lot of noise and they had to be taken care of. We realised that whenever we tried to take the fight to the corporates, we were getting beaten up by the state government itself.
More recently, look at what happened on December 3 to a peaceful demonstration against Dow marking the 27th anniversary of the Bhopal tragedy. Activists were beaten up and hauled off; 14 people are still in jail. Six of them have documents to show that they were not even present at the demonstration. These people have had serious charges slapped against them; the police say they were moving around with swords and countrymade weapons. Three months have passed and no hearing has taken place. We have all the evidence to show that the police started the violence. In fact, we have second-by-second video footage to show who started the violence.
Over the years, we have had several cases slapped against us—from attempt to suicide, to rioting to assaulting policemen (this when we have pictures to show that it is the police who were assaulting us). We go after the company and the state goes after us. I am pretty sure that if convicted on all the charges against me, I will have to spend a minimum of 15 years in jail.
Incidentally, this Wikileaks revelation is just the tip of the iceberg. There is more to come, I am sure. Last time, Wikileaks exposed the former Left government in Bengal. It showed how the Left’s public position on Dow did not match their actions in Bengal. What Wikileaks has done is essentially what the Indian media should have done against a company that has so much influence at all levels of the state.
I do believe that while some sections of the media succumb to allurements from the state and corporate houses, by and large the Indian media has batted with a straight bat. There was a time when I used to be portrayed as a Carbide spy by the local media. I was even charged with espionage activities by the Madhya Pradesh government. All this for trying to help the victims.
—as told to Anuradha Raman
(Sarangi runs the Bhopal Sambhavna Trust Clinic and is founding member, Bhopal Group for Information and Action.)
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
The article "when it's hand and dow " by satyu sarangi was a brain storming one.As wikileaks revealed that Dow chemicals had seek help from a private agency Stratfor to snoop on NGO activities relating to the issue bhopal tragedy ,it emphasises ,as author opinioned ,they are guilty .One major issue relating to the Dow chemicals was in news last week .The Union Sports Ministry wrote to International Olympic Committee(IOC)for urging them to cancel the sponsorship Dow chemicals ,who brought Union carbide company in 2001.even though the Dow
Eventhough the Dow chemicals was in sponsorship for a long time ,the IOC must take a good stand in this issue,because a good portion of the population of one of its member countries is however suffering badly for decades ,by a tragedy caused by Union Carbide company which was undertaken by Dow chemicals in 2001.It may not just because that Dow chemicals undertook the company .But ,eventhough it insisted that it bears neither the responsibility of the tragedy nor will pay compensation to victims ,it hired Stratfor to snoop about NGO activities regarding the issue .And tried to irritate the activists like Satyu Sarangi .This action of them wounded thousands of indian people.
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