In 1994, Sir Mark Tully returned to Bhopal having originally been there in December 1984 as one of the first journalists at the scene of the gas tragedy. On this visit he met a family of survivors in J.P.Nagar one of the bustees worst affected by the disaster: FULL STORY
In August 2016, Tabish Ali, Information Officer for the Bhopal Medical Appeal, tracked down the family to discover how they had fared in the intervening years since Sir Mark Tully’s visit to their house.
Tabish discovered that Haliman, the grandmother and matriarchal figure of the house, had passed away. Haliman’s husband, Abdur Rehman, is still alive but has been confined to bed for the last 7-8 months after a small accident. Sadly, he was not in a condition to be interviewed thanks to his illness and poor mental condition.
Haliman’s daughter-in-law Nafeesa was happy to answer a few questions about the family members remaining in the house and explained that Haliman herself had passed away about eight months ago during Bakra Eid (Eid-uz-Zuha).
“Her lungs failed. Her mental condition was also not good. She had become mentally unsound. She used to speak irrelevant things which were difficult for us to understand. Her condition was miserable after being exposed to gas.”
When asked about her father-in-law: “His condition is really bad. He is not able to move and is confined to bed. He is not even able to go to toilet. We have to look after his cleanliness. He has fallen down eight months ago, from then he is in bed.”
How many children does your father in law have? “He has six daughters and four sons. My husband is his youngest son.”
Do his children have any health issues? “My husband suffers from pain in the chest. His name is Raja”
How many children do you have? “I have three children, two sons and one daughter”
Do your children have any health issues? “No, they don’t have any health issues. Only my husband suffers from pain in the chest.”
It is terribly sad to hear the news of Haliman’s passing and her husband’s poor health. But, it has been an enormous relief to hear that, with the exception of Nafeesa’s husband Raja, the rest of the household seems to be in reasonable health.
The conditions in bustees such as J.P.Nagar can be tough enough at the best time but once the legacy of the Gas Disaster is factored in, along with the ongoing water contamination crisis which blights the area, then anything approaching decent health is truly something to be celebrated.
On Sunday 21st August, you can hear Sir Mark Tully reading a BBC Radio 4 Charity Appeal on behalf of the Bhopal Medical Appeal.
The appeal will be broadcast on Sunday 21st August at 07:55 and 21:26 then on Thursday 25th August at 15:27