Remembering Bhopal gas tragedy: Unique museum opens on 30th anniversary

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Visitors listen to taped audio testament of Gas Victims at the 'Remember Bhopal Museum' in Bhopal.

A unique museum preserving the belongings and pictures of victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy, in which thousands had lost their lives after inhaling toxic gases leaked from Union Carbide plant, was thrown open to public today on the 30th anniversary of the disaster. The first-of-its-kind museum, situated at New Housing Board Colony near now-defunct Union Carbide plant here, captures the horror which unfolded on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984 and also the trail of destruction in the world's worst industrial disaster.

The museum witnessed a sombre opening as the visitors, some of them from abroad, listened to the horror experienced by victims, in the form of recorded messages. Some visitors were seen sobbing as they listened to recorded audio of the victims after lifting phone receivers hung on walls of the museum, a two-storey complex, founded by Remember Bhopal Trust.

At the entrance of the museum hangs a dress worn by three-year-old Sajid, one of the victims of the tragedy. On picking up a phone receiver, the voice of Sajid's mother Bismillah Bi starts recounting the horror of that cold December night as poisonous methyl-isocyanate gas started leaking from the factory and soon enveloped a huge area, while the people lay fast asleep, unaware that it was going to be the last night for many of them.

Bismillah Bi in her choked voice remembers her ordeal as she ran away from her house carrying Sajid, her vision getting blurred due to the thick layer of gas while her voice betrays her helplessness in saving the child. A stethoscope used by one Dr HH Trivedi in examining gas-affected patients is also on display as the recorded voice of Trivedi brings to life the painful memories of the night.

The museum curator Rama Lakshmi, who is correspondent for India of a prominent US-based English daily, said she hit upon the idea of setting up such a museum five years ago. "We started work on it, four years back," she said, adding that the museum also tells the story of contemporary social movement for justice to victims. No chemical or flex material is used in conserving articles put up at the museum.

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