US government petitioned by survivors of Bhopal gas tragedy

By Pervez Bari for,

Bhopal: A group of various organisations of survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide gas catastrophe in Bhopal have written to the US government in the matter of the criminal case on the disaster and have requested to facilitate in producing Union Carbide’s owner Dow Chemical in Bhopal court.

Support TwoCircles

Addressing a Press conference here the leaders told reporter that in the process of responding to the petition the US Department of Justice will serve the Bhopal District Court’s notice on Union Carbide’s owner Dow Chemical so that it appears in the criminal case on July 13.

The organisations said that they have also sent a letter to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking directions to the prosecution, Central Bureau of Investigation, (CBI), to call for harsher measures against Dow Chemical if it fails to appear on July 13.

On December 2-3, 1984 Union Carbide pesticide manufacturing factory had spewed poisonous Methyl Iso-cyanate gas whereby 3000 people had perished instantly and over the years more than 25000 have died and some still continue to live life with the injuries. About half a million are suffering from the side effects of the poisonous gas and several thousand people have been maimed for life.

Rashida Bi, president of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karmchari Sangh said: “In one month we have collected more than 117 thousand signatures on our petition. As per the terms of the Whitehouse website, the US government is obliged to respond to our petition within the next 30 days.”

“We are hopeful that the Prime Minister will take note of this historic challenge by the Bhopal survivors and their international supporters and instruct the CBI to seek issuance of non-bailable warrant against the Dow Chemical if it fails to appear in court on July 13”, said Balkrishna Namdeo, a president of Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogee Sangharsh Morcha.

Nawab Khan of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha thanked Hollywood actor Martin Sheen, MIT professor Noam Chomsky, Canadian writer Margaret Atwood, Association for India’s Development, USA, The Logical Indian, Chennai rapper Sofie Ashraf, US trade union AFL – CIO, Greenpeace, USA, Amnesty, Story of Stuff network and students from different US universities for their contributions towards making the petition a success.

“Once Dow Chemical appears in court it will have to present Union Carbide to face trial. A successful trial can very well lead Union Carbide to pay heavy criminal fines in keeping with its grave criminal acts and its terrible consequences. Hopefully the fines will be large enough to supplement the meagre compensation victims have received so far”, said Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action.

Safreen Khan of Children Against Dow Carbide said: “US government’s support to Union Carbide and its criminal practices dates back to 1975 when the then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger facilitated EXIM bank loans for the pesticide plant in Bhopal. This is the first time that the hypocritical and unethical stand of the US government has been successfully challenged.”