The Bhopal Marathon: Unprecedented Horror

The Bhopal Marathon is the stoyr of 28 yeas of horror suffering and strength as the survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy continue to fight for justice
Photo by Alex Masi


‘Against this we have the official version of bureaucrats and senior doctors who are under instructions not to talk. An attempt is being made to cover-up the deformities and abnormalities being recorded…Nobody knows if the trauma will end with this generation, or the next.’

Writing this in 1985, Ritu Sarin could not possibly have known how chillingly on-the-nail her last remark would turn out to be.

As late as 1990, spontaneous abortion rates among gas-exposed women were more than three times that among unexposed women.

Nearly thirty years later, damaged infants are still being born in Bhopal to gas-affected parents and in the communities whose drinking water is contaminated by chemical wastes leaking from Union Carbide’s still uncleaned factory. (See pp. 94-5, Bhopal Marathon)


Early in 1985 rumours were sweeping the city of a spate of disastrous births, many barely recognisable as human. A group of scared mothers-to-be went in a procession to a government hospital carrying urine samples.

They begged to be tested to make sure their pregnancies were normal, and pleaded for sodium thiosulphate injections to flush out the poisons that had entered their bodies on ‘that night’.

The women got neither tests nor detoxifying-shots but were instead driven off by police with long batons. As these poor women were being beaten up–– not the first time police had attacked women and even children asking for help –– the Indian Council of Medical Research was conducting its double-blind clinical trial of sodium thiosulphate.

While the fears of many mothers-to-be were all too soon horrifically realised, the ICMR study took 25 years to be published, only to prove, a generation too late, that many lives were lost that could have been saved.

You can read the complete Bhopal Marathon publication online here 

Girl with candle Bhopal

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