Skip to main content

"Nuclear poisoning" in Jharkhand village: Hair-raising account of evading responsibility for radiation pollution

Ankush Vengurlekar
By Our Representative
In a hair-raising account of nuclear poisoning, Ankush Vengurlekar, a freelance communications trainer to non-profits, on a 900-kilometre solo cycling expedition to the tribal regions of Jharkhand, finds what he calls "cancer of denial, apathy and evading responsibility of the radiation pollution" in the tribal village of Bango.
Visiting one house after another in the village in East Singhbhum district to see the evidence of radiation pollution on people’s lives, about which media has "grossly underreported", Vengurkelar says, he found himself "slowly sinking to see so many cases of physical deformities in such a small population of about 2,400 people, all in one village."
Sanjay Gope
In the first house, Vengurlekar met Sanjay Gope, who is 12, and developed "severe muscular dystrophy at the age of 4." The writer adds, "This condition meant that his movement was severely restrained and so was his speech."
Entering the house via a short doorway that forces one to bend, he says, he saw that sitting cross-legged on a charpai on the right was Sanjay, a smile beaming from his face.
“He has been like this for the past 8 years, restricted to this cot. One of us has to be here constantly, we cannot leave him by himself,” the boy's grandfather is quoted as saying. On trying to converse with Sanjay, all that the writer managed were "muffled sounds."
Parvati Gope
Then Vengurlekar met Parvati Gope in a muddy house situated nearby. This 17-year-old girl was "suffered from lumbar scoliosis, an S curve formation of her vertebral column", he says, adding, "Parvati’s photos have been widely used by the anti-radiation poisoning movement."
Her father, a little annoyed, tells Vengurlekar, “Everyone comes and shoots her pictures and videos, but no one ever does anything about her condition. She needs to be treated and we need money for medicines. I cannot afford her medicines forever.”
Rakesh Gope
Next was the house of Rakesh Gope, "a school-going 13-year-old boy suffering from muscular dystrophy. Says Vengurlekar, "Only, in this case, he is extremely active and walks, albeit with severely arched feet and soles that are arched upwards." Only, "he also cannot talk normally."
“How long can we provide for his medicine? We don’t even know how long he will live,” Vengurlekar quotes his father as saying.
Kartik Gope
Then, Vengurlekar met Kartik Gope, 3, in the next home. "This sweet child has been having seizures since birth and is developing muscular dystrophy too", says Vengurlekar, adding, "The mother and grandmother are quite hapless. The mother keeps dabbing her child’s face as I take pictures."
"Incidentally", says the writer, "All the families with these symptoms have visited just one particular clinic in Jadugoda, which is in the UCIL (Uranium Corporation of India Ltd) complex of Jadugoda town. Further tests are done mostly at the Chaibasa hospital, while those who can afford it, go to Jamshedpur."
Haradhan Gope
Then there was the house of Haradhan Gope, a boy whose face he had seen in an article in the Hindustan Times. "I had a brief conversation with Haradhan Gope, who was going to the farms to get his cattle back", says Vengurlekar, adding, while he had "begun to preempt the answer" to the reason for the condition of this and other children, few villagers "attributed it to radiation exposure", with most claiming it was their "ill fate."
Anamika Oraon
The last visit was to the house of Anamika Uraon in Dungridih village. A ‘girl with the scary face’, as she was called, Vengurlekar says, "The right side of Anamika’s face was like any other girl of her school-going age... However, the left side of her face had bulged into a cancerous outgrowth of cells and tissue."
"The flesh on this side was so enlarged and weighty that it was drooping down. I remember feeling stunned as I stood there, talking to this girl, for whom, it was inexplicable what was happening to her", Vengurlekar says.

Comments

TRENDING

India's GDP down by 50%, not 23%, job loss 200 million not 122 million: Top economist

By Our Representative One of India’s topmost economists has estimated that India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) decline was around 50%, and not 23%, as claimed by the Government of India’s top data body, National Statistical Organization (NSO). Prof Arun Kumar, who is Malcolm S Adiseshiah chair professor, Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi, said this was delivering a web policy speech, organised by the Impact and Policy Research Institute (IMPRI), New Delhi.

JP advised RSS to give up Hindu Rashtra, disband itself: Ex-IAS officer tells Modi

Counterview Desk
Major MG Devasahayam IAS (Retd), chairman, People-First, in an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Jayprakash Narain’s (JP’s) death anniversary (October 11) has wondered whether he remembers “a patriot called Jayaprakash Narayan”. Recalling what JP thought on issues such as communalism, freedom, democracy, Hindutva etc., Devasahayam says, Modi has been been doing “the very opposite of the principles and values for which JP lived and died.”

Buddhist shrines massively destroyed by Brahmanical rulers in "pre-Islamic" era: Historian DN Jha's survey

By Our Representative
Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book, "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

UP chief secretary, DGP have 'surrendered' to political diktat: 92 retired IAS, IPS officials

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, 92 retired IAS, IFS and IPS bureaucrats, commenting on “blatant violations of the rule law” following the Hathras incident, have blamed that the Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police for abjectly failing to exercise control over a “highly compromised” administration the state.

Hathras reflects Manu's mindset dominates: 'Women are false, it's in their nature to seduce'

By Parijat Ghosh, Dibyendu Chaudhuri*
The woman died and then we woke up to protest. She was alive for two weeks after the heinous incident. Many of us even didn’t notice what had happened at Hathras, how she fought during the next 15 days. Those who noticed, many of them were not sure what actually had happened. So much so, we as a nation were more busy in finding out who among the Bollywood actresses were taking drugs, who smoked weed, who had ‘inappropriate’ or more than one relationship, what kind of private conversations they had in their chat boxes and what not!

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur*
Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Atrocities against Dalits: Why don't MPs, MLAs from the community ever speak up?

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*
In Gujarat, a young Dalit activist lawyer Devji Maheshwari, belonging to the Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation (BAMSCEF) was killed in Surat, allegedly by a goon who was warning him against his Facebook posts not to speak up against Brahmanism. Facts have come to light suggesting there are other issues also which led to the murder, mostly related to land disputes, many a time ignored by activists.

Delhi riots: Even British didn't accuse Bhagat Singh of reading Lenin, Jack London

By Vikash Narain Rai*
After the #BlackLifeMatters movement seriously tested the credibility of police across America, the Houston police chief Art Acevado talked of ending “lawful but awful” policing. No comparison, but in India, a citizens’ committee comprising former top judges and bureaucrats is now set to inquire into the role of the state machinery and media in handling the February 2020 Delhi violence, which followed protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), “as the investigation by the Delhi Police has evoked extensive critical commentary in recent times.”

Human rights 'abuses': Funding to India should be vetted, Greens tell Australian govt

Counterview Desk
A roundtable organised by Australian Greens, which is the third biggest political group in the country, held to discuss human rights situation in India at the New South Wales Parliament in Sydney has insisted that parliamentarians, human rights activists and lawyers should play a more active role “standing up for human rights not just in their own places but also in India.”