Euphoria gave way to despondency in a matter of hours for the hundreds of thousands of grim victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy on the 20th anniversary of the disaster here Friday.
While the victims were mourning Friday, they came to know that the American chemical giant, Dow Chemical, current owner of Union Carbide, had agreed to spend $12 billion dollars for Bhopal and the victims of the tragedy.
The victims were overjoyed as one of their most vocal demands was that the American chemical giant should owe responsibility for the death and disease that had been brought upon so many thousands of people.
"We were astonished. We were not able to believe the news. We thought that history was being created," said Rashida Bee, a crusader of the victims of the gas tragedy, while talking to IANS.
But the joy proved to be short-lived. A couple of hours later, they came to know that the news was a hoax.
"We thought that the Dow Chemical had finally succumbed to the pressure of the gas victims. But soon our all hopes were dashed to the ground," she said.
"For the gas victims, Dec 3 is a day filled with grief and sorrow. There was a ray of hope when we received the news. Our minds are loaded with more sorrow and grief now. After struggling for years, we thought that we had finally won but news proved to be a hoax. We are dejected. Somebody played a very serious joke with us," said Rasheeda Bee, who received the Goldman Environment Prize earlier this year.
Said Rachna Dhingra, a spokesperson of International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal: "The news was unbelievable. When we heard the news, we wanted something in black and white from Dow Chemical, some sort of document. After all, 12 billion dollars is a big amount and we were suspicious from the very beginning. The news ultimately proved to be a hoax."
--Indo-Asian News Service