Bhopal padayatris arrive in Delhi; resolve to stay until justice is done

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangarsh Morcha
Bhopal Group for Information & Action
Bhopal ki Aawaaz

New Delhi. 25 March, 2006 – 46 padyatris from Bhopal, including 39 victims of Union Carbide’s Poisons who traveled a distance of 800 km from Bhopal to Delhi arrived to a massive welcome by students and trade union representatives at Nizamuddin on Saturday afternoon. The march began from Union Carbide factory in Bhopal on February 20. The youngest marcher is 16 while the oldest participant is 90 years old.
The survivors are demanding justice and a life of dignity, and have resolved that they will not return to Bhopal this time without getting all their demands met. At least 10 Bhopalis have announced their readiness to go on an indefinite fast if the Prime Minister does not immediately address their demands.
Booklet of factsheets backing up the padyatris’ demands, PDF format, 5.4mb
“The Indian Government has had more than 21 years of notice about our plight and our demands, this time round we are not returning from Delhi without having all our six demands fulfilled”, said Rashida Bee, leader of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karmachari Sangh and 2004 Goldman Award recipient to the crowds that turned up in solidarity including CITU. AITUC, IFTU, AISA , JNU, Disabled Rights group and Jan Natya Manch.
Representatives of the four Bhopali organisations who coordinated the padyatra will present their 6-point charter of demands to the Prime Minister by month-end.
Their demands include: the setting up of a National Commission on Bhopal to oversee medical and social rehabilitation; supply of safe water to communities currently drinking poisoned water; speedy prosecution of the accused, including Union Carbide Corporation and its former chairman; environmental remediation; curbing Dow and Carbide’s business in India; and memorialising the disaster by including it in school and college curricula and building a Bhopal Memorial in consultation with survivors.
“The hospitality of the villagers through out the march has been heartening, food, accommodation and water has been provided for by them. We hope the Indian government shows at least a fraction of the sensitivity that we have experienced during our 33 days long march.” said Jagannath Das, a 90 year old padyatri.
The Bhopal padayatra has stirred up massive outrage from around the world. At least 2000 faxes, more emails and 10,000 signatures, have been sent to the Prime Minister’s office, by Bhopal supporters worldwide, urging him to meet the Bhopalis and resolve their issues. On 23 March, 20 US congresspersons, led by Congressman Frank Pallone, issued a letter to the Indian Prime Minister in which Dow Chemical and Union Carbide have been condemned for their disregard for law. The letter also urges the Prime Minister to address the long-standing demands of the Bhopalis. On 24 March, NRIs and student activists from the US staged a demonstration outside the Indian embassy in Washington D.C. to expose the insensitivity of the Indian Government for having let the victims of the worst industrial disaster suffer for so long.
For more information:
Nityanand Jayaraman, +91 9811138987
c/o A1/125, 1st floor, Safdurjung Envclave, New Delhi. 110039

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