Delhi school kids march for Bhopal gas tragedy victims


New Delhi : Over 100 school kids participated in a rally here Wednesday in support of the Bhopal gas tragedy survivors who marched from Bhopal to Delhi, demanding rehabilitation and compensation for them and their children.

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Echoing the marchers’ demands for an empowered commission to provide medical, social, economic and environmental rehabilitation to those who have suffered since the 1984 tragedy, the children took the march from Jantar Mantar to Parliament Street in the heart of the capital.

“We had all heard of the Bhopal gas tragedy. But after hearing the tales from the people themselves, especially from children, we feel strongly for their cause,” said Raghav Sharma, a student of Shri Ram school.

The tragedy dates back to Dec 3, 1984, when a Union Carbide subsidiary pesticide plant in Bhopal released 40 tonnes of methyl isocyanate gas, killing approximately 3,800 people.

The incident, known as one of the world’s worst industrial disasters, left hundreds of thousands suffering from chronic exposure. Contaminated groundwater around the plant area still continues to infect people with various diseases.

Of the 50 people who took the month-long Bhopal-Delhi march or padyatra of 800 km, five were children.

Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action said the kids who participated in the march were 11-year-olds.

“The marchers, including the children, have just one demand – that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh keep his promises that he made to the people of Bhopal when they took a similar march two years back,” Dhingra told IANS.

Yasmin, one of the 11-year-old marchers, has written a letter to the prime minister in blood, urging him to keep his promises.

“Children of Bhopal are victims of two of the world’s worst disasters. One was caused by the Union Carbide’s toxic gases and the other by the water that is still contaminated due to the tragedy,” Yasmin said.

This letter, along with others echoing similar sentiments and written by school students of Delhi and Chennai, will be submitted to Manmohan Singh by a delegation of children.

The marchers submitted a letter earlier to the prime minister with 20 questions. These include queries like what measures have been taken to ensure medical care to victims of the tragedy and why the government has not taken any steps to prosecute Union Carbide?

Students of the Shri Ram School, Tagore International School and Blue Bells School were among those who participated in the rally.