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Friday, December 03, 2021

Behind violent protest by gas victims,a video,a training manual

For a month,protesters got training,including on how to lie on tracks

Written by Milind Ghatwai | Bhopal |
December 7, 2011 1:28:57 am

Behind the massive mobilisation on the railway tracks of Bhopal on the 27th anniversary of the gas tragedy were a training video and a seven-step instruction manual.

For more than a month before the disaster’s anniversary,activists of five organisations working for the survivors had moved from one slum to another training people for the ‘rail roko’ on Saturday. A video had been shot on the Bhopal-Ujjain track with some activists playing protesters and others playing cops with instructions on how to occupy the sleepers and how to place one’s head on the rails.

“Walk seven steps to get the right compensation,” read one of the posters to lure the survivors to what turned out to be the most violent protest in the tragedy’s history. “Gather in groups of 15-20 people and include kids… wait for orders… loosen your body when the police come to catch you,” were among the instructions given.

While the same video is now being used by the activists to defend themselves,the administration is seeing in it an elaborate conspiracy.

“There was no place for violence as is clear from the instructions,” Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action said. The organisers blamed “unprovoked” police lathicharge for the violence.

Rashida Bi of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh alleged the police entered houses of people living near the tracks in Barkhedi and harassed them.

The organisations also said they would hand over Balkrishna Namdeo,one of the activists charged with rioting and attempt to murder,to the police if they could produce any evidence against him.

Home Minister Umashankar Gupta promised action against those who “instigated the protesters”.

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