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Archive for the ‘Bhopal Gas Tragedy’ Category

Animal's PeopleAnimal’s People by Indra Sinha
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The book is based on the Bhopal Gas Tragedy which left many people maimed for life. The main protagonist is a boy whose back has been so badly bent due to the poisonous gas that he cannot walk upright and is forced to walk on all fours like an animal. In fact he is called Janwar (animal) by everybody. He lives in the now decrepit factory from which the poisonous gas was released along with a French nun who had looked after him in child care institute setup after the tragedy.
He has seen a lot of trash, has eaten from trash and has continued to survive. He comes in touch with an activist who is fighting for the rights of the people. The activist along with his cronies are helping people fight the Company who caused the tragedy in court. The court keeps adjourning every hearing as the defendants keep failing to turn up.
The activist leads the fight from a singer’s house who has lost his wife and his voice to the poisonous gas. Only his daughter remains with him. The activist is romantically attached to the girl even though she much younger than him. Animal finds himself attracted to her as she is one of the few who does not make fun of him or tease him, and instead treats him like a human.
One fine day an American doctor arrives and takes the house opposite the singer’s house and she says that she will set up a free clinic which can be availed by all. The activist and his group are extremely suspicious of her motives. They believe that she will study the populace and will submit a finding that will read “The people of this town are more sick because of the unhygienic conditions in which they leave rather than due to the effect of the poisonous gas”. They set animal to spy on her, or in their terms “namisponding – jamisponding” (Guess that that could me. It took me till the end of the book to understand it.)
Animal becomes friendly with her and contrary to their suspicions, he finds that she is genuinely their to help, but he does not find the courage to pass on this information to the Activist as the many evidences he gathers appear to be false. They are unable to find her name in the Internet or Internest as they tend to call it and the fact that she is on talking basis with the Health Minister of the state makes them suspect her even more.
He ends up taking her to the village folks so that she gets a feel for their suffering and it genuinely impacts her even more. But Animal is still unable to bring himself to tell about this to the Activist and his gang.
Finally people start believing her and start going to her clinic. Soon the company representative and their lawyers turn up to fight in the court. It appears they are also gunning for an out of court settlement with the government authorities. The Activist and a few others go on a hunger strike to force the ministers not to reach an out of court settlement with the company.
In the meantime Animal finds the lady doctor being friendly with one of the company persons. All the trust he had in the doctor vanishes and he not struggles to tell the Activist that he should not believe the lady doctor who is trying convince the Activist not to go on a hunger strike.
One thing leads to another and rumour has it that the Activist and his friend have died. This leads to rioting on the streets and a few goons try to destroy the lady doctor’s clinic.
Animal unwittingly sets alight the factory and runs away, literally into the jungle.
Read the book to figure out how it all ends.
On the whole a good read.

BTW “namisponding – jamisponding” is a spinoff from Name is Bond – James Bond.

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