Sebastian Coe’s effigy burnt on Bhopal gas tragedy’s 27th anniversary


Bhopal : The survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy staged a rally on it’s 27th anniversary Friday and burnt effigies of 2012 London Olympics Organising Committee chairman Sebastian Coe and Dow Chemicals protesting against the chemical giant’s sponsorship of the mega sporting event.

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An effigy of Indian Olympic Association acting president
V.K. Malhotra was also burnt.

But it was not only the survivors who marched in the rally to the Union Carbide factory. They were joined by London Assembly member Navin Shah and three former Olympians – Jalauddin Rizvi, Mohammad Yusuf and Salim Abbassi also participated in the march.

“It is disgusting that Dow Chemicals is sponsoring the London Olympics. To put pressure, we have raised the issue in the London Assembly and I am here to protest along with survivors,” Shah, who belongs to the opposition Labour party, told IANS.

Shah, who is originally from Mumbai was also surprised at the indifferent role of the Indian government and the country’s leaders on the issue.

“The Indian government should raise the issue with the Olympics Organizing Committee. If the government does not raised the issue, Indian leaders should put pressure on the government (to do so).”

Rizvi, who hails from Bhopal and was part of the Indian hockey team at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, said the organizers of the London Games were violating its core principles through their association with Dow Chemicals, which now owns the Union Carbide plant that spewed the lethal MIC gas on the night of Dec 2-3, 1984, killing 3,000 people instantly and 25,000 till now and affected over 500,000 over the years.

He appealed to national and international Olympians to persuade the London Games organisers to drop Dow Chemicals.

The protesters said that in defending Dow Chemicals as a sponsor of the London Games, Coe and Malhotra had set aside all sense of morality and their own humanity.

Rachna Dhingra of Group for Action and Information said: “If the London Olympics organizing body does not reject Dow Chemical’s sponsorship, we will hold a Bhopal Olympics to coincide with the event. Children with congenital disabilities caused due to the gas leak and Vietnamese children hurt by Dow’s Agent Orange will perform at the Bhopal Olympics.”

On Saturday, some of the protesters will stop trains crossing Bhopal station some will gherao Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s residence to press the central and state governments to present the correct figure of casualties before the Supreme Court.

The central government, in its curative petition in the Supreme Court has said only 5,000 people died in the tragedy.