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Every Breath A Stranglehold

Bhopal’s night of December 2, 1984, recounted by a foreteller

Every Breath A Stranglehold
Illustration by Sorit
Every Breath A Stranglehold
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

I was then a resident of old Bhopal, just a couple of kilometres from the Union Carbide plant. Around midnight on December 2, 1984, after finishing a story for The Sunday Observer, I went to bed. Before I fell asleep, I felt a sharp pricking sensation in my throat. I thought I was going to catch a cold. But a few minutes later, I was coughing and had difficulty breathing. I then heard loud sounds from outside. Looking out of the window, I saw people running. And then I smelt a very strong, foul odour. I moved back to the bedroom to find my wife coughing too. I realised there was something terribly wrong. I immediately shut the windows and switched on the fan in spite of the December chill. I asked my wife to sit under the fan and called the police control room. When someone responded, I could hear him gasp for breath and cough. “What’s happened?” I asked. “Sahab, Union Carbide ki gas tankee phoot gayee hai. Dam ghut raha hai. (Sir, a Union Carbide gas tank has exploded. I am suffocating).” He...

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