On December 2, 2012 students of National Law Institute University, Bhopal (NLIU) in partnership with Rajeev Smriti Gas Peedit Punarwaas Kendra organized ‘Run for Bhopal’, a Run in memory of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Victims. The NLIU students were working under the People United for Law, Education and Rehabilitation (PULER), a student-based organisation founded by NLIU students. The NLIU students also organised a poster making competition at various schools with the winning posters being displayed at the run
The event saw more than a thousand people turn up at the venue and was flagged off by a number of guests including Ramesh Chandra Agarwal, Chairman of the Dainik Bhaskar Group, Surendra Nath Singh, Chairman of the Bhopal Development Authority, and Jayant Malaiya, the State Minister for Environment and Water Resources.
The Bhopal Run was the brainchild of three NLIU students, Abhinay Shukla, Divyanshu Rai and Akshay Amritanshu, all members of PULER. Akshay spoke to Bar & Bench about the run, his team of volunteers and how they went about planning the entire event.
Bar & Bench: A run and the Bhopal gas tragedy – what is the connection?
Akshay Amritanshu: Well, that's the first question which everyone asks. It's been 28 years now since that unfortunate day, however, the amount of compensation and relief given is still inadequate, and problems such as the toxic waste still exist. Moreover, our generation and all the youngsters, we weren't even there when this happened, and thus we turn a blind eye to it and ignore the fact that those victims and their families are still suffering. This Run was aimed at uniting these youngsters from all schools and colleges and sensitizing them, creating awareness towards the fact the problem is not yet over. We did not want this to be a fund raiser, but a platform where everybody could come together. It is only after people realise that a problem exists would they understand how much more needs to be done for the victims. The thousand-odd people that turned up came not for any prize money or free merchandise (we didn’t have any to offer) but only because they supported the cause.
B&B: How did you get the money for this?
AA: There were individuals and companies who liked what we were doing and expressed their concern about the cause. They appreciated our idea and thus came out in support. As the news about a Run in the memory of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Victims started to spread, there were more and more people who were willing to help and thus they contributed for the cause.
B&B: What were some of the things you learnt while organising this?
AA: First things first, you have to have faith in your team and yourself. Without a team which is brimming with energy and willing to do anything and everything, an event of this scale is not possible. There were more than 100 students from NLIU who were working all day to make this event happen. The second requirement was detailed and thorough planning. Not trying to sound vain but an event of this scale to be planned and organised right from the scratch exclusively by a group of 5-10 students was not easy.
Thirdly, permission from authorities often becomes a hassle at times. The fourth requirement was promoting the event. We could not afford to put up giant hoardings around the city. Thus, our only resource was our team. The volunteers were running all day putting up posters, distributing pamphlets, registering people and it was their efforts that got a thousand people on the final day.
And finally, as one of my seniors told me, "Stick to the cause. If you believe in the cause, then nothing can stop you from making the event successful."