Bhopal Survivors, Van Drivers, Motorocyclists Launch Boycott of Indian Oil

CHENNAI, 27 May 2005:
The International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal and its supporters today launched a nation wide boycott of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) until the company abandons plans to do business with Union Carbide or its new owner Dow Chemical. Shahid Noor, an orphan from the Bhopal disaster, who now leads an organisation of 19 Bhopal disaster orphans, arrived in town to announce the boycott. “We requested Indian Oil, the Ministry of Petroleum, the Ministry of Chemicals and various other Government bodies. Like before, all these people are more interested in business than justice for the Bhopal survivors. We have been betrayed by various Governments before. But we didn’t think Indian Oil or the Government of India will actually contemplate business with the killers of Bhopal,” he said.
Aiyar sneaks Carbide back into India
On 28 May, Noor will lead a demonstration in Petroleum minister’s constituency protesting against Mani Shankar Aiyar’s failure to cancel the deal and blacklist Dow Chemical. On 29 May, Noor will flag off a motorcycle rally from Mayiladuthurai to Chennai by the Madras Bulls, a Chennai-based club of “Bullet” or “Royal Enfield” enthusiasts. Tamilnadu All Drivers Welfare Association, with more than 7000 members, and “We Feel Responsible” – a Chennai-based youth group – are also joining the ICJB in launching the boycott. ICJB volunteers in Delhi, Bhopal, Mumbai and Trivandrum have indicated that they will be announcing boycotts in their cities in the second phase. Autorickshaw, taxi and mini van drivers have promised their support.
Union Carbide is charged with culpable homicide in the Bhopal magistrate’s court for its role in the Bhopal disaster. In February 1992, the company was proclaimed an absconder by the Magistrate after it repeatedly failed to honour summons issued by the court. In January 2005, the Magistrate ordered that summons be issued to Dow Chemical, asking the parent company to produce Union Carbide in Court. Dow maintains that it does not recognise the Indian court’s criminal jurisdiction over Carbide.
Indian Oil has approved a technology purchase agreement with Dow Chemical to source Union Carbide’s technology for the Mono Ethylene Glycol unit at its upcoming Naptha refinery in Panipat, Haryana.
Because Union Carbide is an absconder, the Indian Government is obliged to arrest it and produce it in court if it enters India for any reason. “We are appalled by Indian Oil’s proposal to do business with Carbide. It’s like rewarding a criminal accused of murder with a lucrative business deal. As motorists and consumers of Indian Oil products, we’ll encourage our other friends to boycott IOC till the company abandons this deal with Dow-Carbide,” said Jaychandran, a member of the Madras Bulls.
Other supporters include the Corporate Accountability Desk, Human Rights Tamilnadu Initiative, and Mayiladuthurai-based Thamizhar Urimai Iyakkam, Penn Thozhilargal Sangam, Thanthai Periyar Kazhagam and Tamil Meenavar Munitra Sangam.
See also this report and this, also this from Associated Press.

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