Bhopal gas victims fast for compensation over toxic fumes

GARAVI GUJARAT
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INDIAN activists launched a hunger strike to seek compensation for thousands of slum dwellers poisoned by the 1984 Bhopal gas leak in which clouds of toxic fumes spewed from a plant.
The six campaigners ate stuffed Indian bread with pickle as their last meal on Tuesday on a pavement in downtown New Delhi as traffic roared by.
Protesters have been camped on the sidewalk since March 25 after staging an 800-kilometer (500-mile) trek from Bhopal in central Madhya Pradesh state.
They decided to launch their fast in which they will only drink water because they felt nobody was paying attention to their protest.
“This is our last weapon. It has been 21 years. The government has not done anything,” said gas leak survivor Champa Devi Shukla.
Fasts are a favourite weapon in India since being popularised by pacifist independence leader Mahatma Gandhi.
The hunger strike was the second in the capital. Prominent environmental activist Medha Patkar was in the 13th day of a hunger strike in hospital to demand help for villagers displaced by a massive dam.
Shukla blames the cancer deaths of her husband and son on the 40 tonnes of lethal methyl isocyanate gas spewed from a Union Carbide plant on December 2, 1984.
Another of Shukla`s sons committed suicide after being disabled in the accident.
The gas immediately killed over 3,500 slum dwellers. The toll has since climbed to over 15,000, the government says. But activists say it is double.

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