Branded by tragedy

Written by Garima Pant | Updated: Jun 21 2010, 05:16am hrs
His name almost permanently associated with the worlds worst disasters, journalist Rajkumar Keswani believes that the recent verdict has in a way proved to be a blessing in disguise. After a quarter century of disaster striking Bhopal, Keswani believes that it is for the first time that people have responded on the issue of Bhopal on a mass scale. The verdict was a disaster, glorifying injustice. However, people are waking up and realising the gravity of the situation and voicing their dissent, says Keswani.

The spirited journalist recalls how his efforts to unearth the lurking dangers at the Union Carbide plant were met with dissent and disbelief. There were lack of experts at that time who could elaborate on the ill-effects of a gas leak. Even the local journalists had to learn a lot about the subject, he adds. Questions were raised and are still being asked about the callous attitude of the government in allowing an industry to be set up without knowing what was to be manufactured in it. It clearly showed the inconsiderate attitude of the government towards people, who were and still are thought of only during election time, he adds. Keswani recalls how within a week of the disaster, news about the incident moved away from the spotlight and was confined to the inside pages.

Having lived and grown up in Bhopal, Keswani can still see traces of disaster lingering on in old Bhopal. He feels the government still has to wake up and realise the potential dangers hazardous industries pose to the lives of people. He refers to Bhopal as the case where a majority of victims were poor and did not have a voice.

There are literate activist groups talking on their behalf. But even they dont know the reality. The truth is that a real victim cannot communicate what he is going through, says Keswani.