Bhopal gas tragedy: 20 eminent citizens joined Jantar Mantar protest to express solidarity

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SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association)

Twenty eminent citizens today visited the dharna site at Jantar Mantar, where five women survivors of the Union Carbide gas disaster and their supporter who are on the second day of their water-less fast and spoke in support of their protest. They also called upon the Prime Minister and the Minister of Chemicals to resolve the issues related to additional compensation immediately.

Justice (Retd.) Rajendra Sachar, D. Raja, General Secretary, Communist Party of India, veteran journalist Kuldip Nayyar, renowned photographer Raghu Rai, legal scholar Usha Ramanathan, columnist Praful Bidwai, Kavita Krishnan, Secretary, All India Progressive Womens’ Association, human rights activist Gautam Navlakha and representatives of Jawaharlal Nehru University students union and Jamia Teachers Solidarity Association who visited the protest site also signed an open letter to the Prime Minister calling for immediate resolution of the issues raised by the survivors’ organizations.

Leaders of the survivors’ organizations also called upon the Prime Minister to ensure that American Dow Chemical Company does not get away with its disrespect for Indian courts. Dow Chemical did not appear before the Bhopal District court to which it was summoned today.

“This September our Prime Minister extended the American corporations the warmest welcome to India they have ever had. And now the number one American corporation Dow Chemical has just today defied the summons of the Bhopal District Court. This is an issue of national significance that the Prime Minister must address himself as he is in charge of the prosecution, CBI.” the five organizations said in a joint statement.

Bhopal Group for Information & Action, one of the five organizations protesting at Jantar Mantar has filed an application today for publication of proclamation against Dow Chemical or ex-parte proceeding against the offending corporation.

The organizations said that the Government must immediately announce that it will not allow Dow Chemical to make any investment in India till it obeys the summons of the Indian courts. It must also prepare to move against Dow Chemical’s Indian subsidiaries to enforce criminal jurisdiction.

Five Bhopal based organizations that are jointly leading the protest called on the Prime Minister and the Minister of Chemicals and Fertilizers to correct the errors of the previous government on the issue of compensation for the gas disaster. These five survivors of the leak of poisonous gases have decided to fast without water demanding additional compensation for all affected people.

US activist Bill McKibben, organizer of the recent Peoples Climate March, and M Ilango, Chairman of the National Fishworkers Forum a trade union of 3 lakh fish-workers along with five of his colleagues visited Jantar Mantar to express solidarity with the Bhopal protestors.

On December 2-3, 1984, at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal, a leak of methyl isocyanate gas and other chemicals from the plant resulted in hundreds of thousands of people being exposed to the deadly gas. Warren Anderson was the chairman of the company, who recently died in the United States.

The survivors are demanding additional compensation for all affected people and revision of figures of death and lingering injury caused by the disaster 30 years ago. Relatives of several victims got only Rs 25000 as compensation and many of them have to still visit hospitals for the diseases caused by the disaster.

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