Rallies, prayer meets mark Bhopal gas disaster anniversary


Bhopal : People here held rallies, demonstrations and burnt effigies to observe the 24th anniversary of the Bhopal gas tragedy, which killed over 3,000 people and maimed several thousand others for life.

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The tragedy occurred on the night of Dec 2-3, 1984, when tonnes of Methyl-Isocyanate (MIC) and other lethal gases spewed out of the now defunct Union Carbide Corporation’s pesticide plant.

The NGOs, working for the victims, reiterated their resolve to continue their fight against the government, Union Carbide and Dow Chemicals which took over Union Carbide.

A torch rally was held and effigies of Warren Anderson, the then chairman of Union Carbide, were burnt at several places.

An all-religion prayer meeting was held Wednesday morning at the Barkatullah Bhavan in memory of the victims. However, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Governor Balram Jakhar did not attend. Every year, both the governor and the chief minister have been joining the memorial meeting.

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangthan (BGPMUS), a pressure group working for the cause of gas victims since 24 years, also took out a procession following a public meeting at the Yadgar-e-Shahjahani Park.

The procession passed through various localities of old Bhopal, around Union Carbide plant and culminated at Chhola cremation ground where Anderson’s effigy was burnt and a pledge to carry on the fight for justice was taken.

“The after-effects of the world’s biggest industrial disaster are not coming to an end. Despite all the claimed attempts, the much needed help, even today, is awaited by the most badly hit victims.

“Every year, the anniversary of the gas tragedy passes on with condolence meets and assurances but authorities are yet to address the woes of the sufferers”, said Abdul Jabbar, convenor BGPMUS.

He said: “Until now Rs.4 billion have been spent by these people in this fight. It is really shameful. The governments and the politicians are nothing but coffin thieves. They have snatched money from the dying people.”

Another rally was taken out jointly by the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh (BGPMSKS), Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha (BGPMPSM) and Bhopal Group for Information and Action (BGIA).

Leaders of the organisations said over 100,000 people were still battling with chronic illnesses and diseases like tuberculosis, diabetes and hypertension and mental health problems.