Bhopalis move dharna to Jantar Mantar after positive response from Ministry of Chemicals

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NEW DELHI, 29 March, 2006
Four Bhopali women – who are victims of Union Carbide – were injured, including two that lost consciousness, when the police forcibly evicted more than 200 survivors who had taken over the pavement outside the Ministry of Chemicals, in the high-security area outside Sastri Bhavan in New Delhi.
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Ashraaf Bee, 60, collapses after being kicked in the chest by police
All four women – Ashraaf Bee (75), Bano Bee (55), Munni Bee (35) and Nafisa Bee (35) – are victims of Union Carbide’s poisons, and had walked 800 km to New Delhi from Bhopal. Ashraaf Bee and Bano Bee were kicked in the stomach and stamped on, and had to be x-rayed at the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. They were discharged at around 9 p.m. after a harrowing experience in the Hospital where the casualty ward doctors abused them, accused them of lying about their injuries, and threatened to cut open their stomach. Read the story here.
The police refused to press charges against the 300 or so Bhopalis who were detained in the Parliament Street Police station.
“The Government seems very efficient in apprehending people who are protesting peacefully for just causes. They don’t have the courage or the political will to take on the real criminals like the US multinational Union Carbide or its owner Dow Chemical,” said Satinath Sarangi of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action.
In a meeting with the Secretary, Ministry of Chemicals, the Ministry agreed with most demands and promised to send necessary recommendations supporting the demands to the Prime Minister.
“The ball is squarely in the lap of the Prime Minister, who will have to choose between Dow Chemical and the people of Bhopal,” said Shahid Noor survivor-activist who leads an organisation of youth orphaned by the Bhopal Gas Disaster.
A Bhopal delegation is set to meet the Minister of Chemicals, Mr. Ram Vilas Paswan, at 5 p.m. However, the Bhopalis have yet to receive a confirmation of the meetings with the PM and Sonia Gandhi.
In a significant development, 20 members of the US Congress, led by Congressman Frank Pallone, have written to the Prime Minister urging him to address the Bhopalis’ demands and take action against the errant US multinational.
“The conduct of American corporations outside the US is a long-standing concern of ours, especially with regard to environmental protection standards… It is outrageous that the CEOs of Union Carbide and its successor, Dow Chemical, have yet to be brought to justice… It is disappointing that the Indian Government has been reticent (sic) to pursue Union Carbide and Dow Chemical for their civil and criminal liabilities in the country,” the letter states.
Read the letter for yourself.
The Bhopal survivors have decided to carry on their indefinite dharna at Jantar Mantar until the meeting with the Prime Minister. In the absence of a positive response from the Government, about 12 survivors have decided to go on an indefinite hunger strike.
Survivors’ demands relate to provision of clean water, environmental remediation at the polluters’ cost, setting up of a national commission to provide medical and economic rehabilitation, stopping Union Carbide and Dow Chemical’s businesses in India until justice is done, and memorialising the disaster by including the Bhopal story in educational curricula and by building a memorial in Bhopal after considering the sensitivities and ideas of survivors.
For more information, contact: Nityanand Jayaraman. Cell: 9811138987 or Pragya Vats: 9868424692

Visit: https://www.bhopal.net/march/ or www.studentsforbhopal.org

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