December 6, 2011
BHOPAL, INDIA – Condemning the violence triggered by precipitate police action on a peaceful rail roko staged by Bhopal victims on 3 December, five survivors organisations today said they will organise a detailed enquiry presided over by a retired judge of the High Court or Supreme Court. The enquiry is expected to help survivors in their attempts to gather evidence and initiate formal proceedings against those responsible for the violence, including the police. The survivors groups apologised to the media persons who were hurt, and said they will work towards ensuring that those responsible for the violence against media persons are identified and punished.
Calling the State Government’s actions vindictive, the organisations laid the blame squarely on the police for the violence that ensued on 3 December. “The first act of the police was to snatch away our PA system through which we could have stopped protestors from responding to police brutalities through violence,” said Rashida Bee, President, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh. Rashida said that she is an eye witness to the police instigating violence and creating a situation for criminal elements to join in.
Rashida introduced several women among the over 50 gas victims who were beaten with sticks and left bleeding while protesting peacefully. Even after peace was restored and the agitation called off, a large gang of policemen entered individual homes and shops in Umrao Dulha Baug area and beat up people, damaged furniture, doors, windows and vehicles.
The organisations appealed to all citizens who had recorded the violence on 3rd on their cameras and mobiles to send them the evidence for successful prosecution of police officials.
The Chief Minister has gone back on his assurance to initiate an independent and impartial investigation in to the incident of violence. Survivors and their children, including those who were not even present at the scene, are being charged with trumped up offences. Balkrishna Namdeo, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morcha, has been charged with murderous assault and other serious offences without any evidence.
“If the police can present one single photograph, video or any other evidence to substantiate their charges against Namdeo, we will ourselves walk him to the jail,” said Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action (BGIA). The organizations called for immediate withdrawal of false charges on innocent gas victims and their children.
They said that the 14 men who are currently in police custody include those who were arrested while returning from their workplace and were not present when violence broke out. “The men were stripped to their underpants, and beaten inside the police station where they were detained for well over 40 hours. These young men were not allowed to speak to their parents or lawyer and every right of an accused was violated,” said Rachna Dhingra also from BGIA.
The organizations opposed the Chief Minister’s recent demand for inclusion of 20 wards of New Bhopal in the gas-affected area. They said the demand did not have any scientific basis and would weaken the gas victim’s case for compensation fr0om Dow Chemical.
International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal
Rashida Bi, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, 94256 88215
Rampyari Bai, Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha
Nawab Khan, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, 9303831487
Safreen Khan, Children Against Dow-Carbide
Satinath Sarangi, Rachna Dhingra, Bhopal Group for Information and Action, 9826167369