Lalit K Jha, NDTV, April 12, 2008
New York — The ghost of Bhopal gas tragedy, which killed thousands of people on the morning of December 3, 1984 refuses to die down.
A group of about 100 students from various universities in and around New York on Friday held a peaceful demonstration outside the Indian Consulate demanding the Indian Government for speedy justice to the victims of the tragic Bhopal disaster.
These students, members of the Amnesty International US Chapter, had identified Bhopal gas disaster as one of the five global hotspots for continued human rights violations for their ”Get on The Bus” campaign this year. The other hot spots being; Burma, Sri Lanka, Darfur and Libya.
Displaying placards and banners and chanting slogans, these students said they are outraged at the mistreatment and neglect of Bhopal’s survivors. As such they demanded that the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh should immediately meet the victims of the Bhopal disaster who have just concluded their second march to New Delhi.
”The Prime Minister refuses to meet them. On the other hand his Government has worked to clear the paths for the re-entry of Dow Chemicals in the country,” Emily Setton, spokesperson for the protestors told NDTV.com.
Following the peaceful protest – that lasted about 40 minutes – a delegation of the demonstrators met officials of the Indian Consulate to submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister, Setton said.
Signed by some 800 students, the memorandum said: ”Though Union Carbide is a criminal fugitive in India, your government has approved Dow’s sale of Carbide technology to Reliance Industries.”
As such students demanded this be cancelled by his Government.
”The Government should pursue the extradition of Warren Anderson and Union Carbide Corporation’s representatives; work aggressively to hold Dow liable for clean-up in Bhopal; and cancel registration of the four pesticides that Dow obtained for by paying bribes,” they demanded.
These students said their protest demonstration outside the Indian consulate was to show their solidarity and support to the survivors of the Bhopal tragedy, who are yet to get justice more than 23 years after the tragic incident.
Setton said Bhopal tragedy was selected by the students as one of the five issues for their campaign because they believe it is a watershed event for efforts to hold corporations and governments accountable for the consequences of their actions on people and the environment.
Signatories to the memorandum said they support the demands of the Bhopal victims for a special commission to address economic, medical, social and environmental rehabilitation and oversee the speedy provision of clean and free drinking water.