Bhopal disaster victims protest outside PM's office
On the 28th anniversary of the Bhopal gas disaster several hundred survivors marched to the Prime Minister's office seeking his intervention on punishment of the guilty corporations and their officials and adequate compensation for all victims.
More than 700 victims were stopped just before the PMO office by the Delhi Police.
The victims decided to stage their dharna at the South Block and refused to be shifted to Jantar Mantar.
Organized jointly by five organizations of survivors and supporters, the "knock on the Prime Ministers door" campaign, had earlier sought an appointment with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Nov 19, to discuss unresolved issues of justice in Bhopal.
The organizations said that 28 years after the Union Carbide gas disaster the individuals and corporations responsible for the worst corporate massacre in history remain unpunished and the foreign accused continue to abscond from justice.
They said that the Prime Minister must personally intervene to ensure that the foreign accused including Warren Anderson and authorized representatives of Union Carbide are extradited to face trial in the pending criminal case.
The organizations sought the creation of a Special Prosecution Cell in the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for ensuring enhanced punishment of Keshub Mahindra and other Indian accused.
The organizations said that the governments at the centre and the state had downplayed the number of deaths and the health damage caused by the toxic exposure in demanding compensation from the American corporations.
They pointed out that based on figures from the study by the Indian Council of Medical Research, an official research agency, the death toll of the disaster is close to 25, 000, whereas the Government of India's submission in court claims that only 5295 persons were killed by the disaster.
According to them 94 percent of the victims have been wrongly categorized as only temporarily injured and given only Rs. 25,000 as compensation.
The organizations charged that by failing to secure the Bhopal victim's legal rights to adequate compensation, the Government of India has betrayed the promises made through the Bhopal Act of 1985.
Through the Bhopal Act the central government took away victims' right to legal representation and then sold the victims out in a secretly negotiated settlement with the corporation at an amount that was one seventh of the amount originally claimed.
The organizations said that they have met with the Chairman of the Group of Ministers on Bhopal in July but have had no satisfactory response.
They said in two years the Bhopal tragedy will enter its fourth decade and the Prime Minister must ensure justice and a life of dignity for the survivors before the 30th Anniversary of the disaster.