Hindustan Times (Ranchi)

Saviour of many in Bhopal gas tragedy remains unsung

- Shams Ur Rehman Alavi srehman@hindustant­imes.com

BHOPAL: The train had just chugged into Bhopal railway station when deputy station superinten­dent Ghulam Dastgir, who was on duty there, came to know about the leakage of a poisonous gas on the night of December 2-3, 1984.

Though no one had any inkling then that it was the lethal methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas that had spewed from the nearby Union Carbide factory, or that it would finish off thousands of lives in Bhopal within the next few hours, Dastgir had sensed it was an emergency situation.

With the entire cabin staff gone and people falling unconsciou­s or vomiting, Dastgir ran across the length of the platform, convincing the driver and guard to leave the station though the train had a 32-minute scheduled halt here. Dastgir did it without any authority or nod from the top.

And, he contacted the stations on either side, ensuring that no further train arrived in Bhopal. But the night took a heavy toll on him for the rest of his life until he died in 2003. One of his sons had also died because of effects of the deadly gas.

“At the railway station in the morning, there was death everywhere. My father’s eyes had swelled and he couldn’t see properly. Perhaps it was his being a fitness freak that carried him through that night but later his lungs failed,” recalls his son Nayab.

Dastgir did not get the much recognitio­n or compensati­on. “The railway authoritie­s said it was not a mishap, so they didn’t pay any compensati­on,” Nayab further says.

Abdul Jabbar, activist and president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan (BGPMUS), says it was Dastgir who was in operationa­l charge at the station at night.

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