Swedish general practitioner Ingrid Eckerman has been permanently denied access to India to visit the family who have adopted her as their ‘grandmother’. Eckerman, who has been denied access to the country since she wrote a book titled ‘The Bhopal Saga: Causes and Consequences of the World’s Largest Industrial Disaster’ about the Bhopal gas disaster.
“I have been a close friend of the family since 1994, and I regard the nine grandchildren as my own” said Dr Eckerman, who has visited the family annually for over 17 years. In addition, Dr Eckerman’s ‘daughter’ had become seriously ill and later died.
Eckerman met the family during a trip with an international medical commission to follow up the medical long-term effects of the deadly gas leak in Bhopal which occurred on the night between December 2 and 3, 1984. During the trip, Eckerman reflected over the Bhopal catastrophe – where 500,000 people were exposed to 27 tonnes of toxic gases which leaked from Union Carbide’s pesticide plant in the center of the city.
Dr Eckerman attempted to visit Bhopal but was forced on a return flight, as have other professionals such as journalists and scientists. “But I am not a scientist, neither a journalist and definitely not a terrorist, and I cannot be compared to the well-known Marxist author Jan Myrdal. I am a retired doctor who wants to see her grandchildren” said Eckerman.