Chennai, 17th June, 10am to 4 pm
Supporters from Chennai joined the Global Hunger Strike Relay today, in solidarity with the nine Bhopalis who are on an indefinite hunger fast in Delhi. Students from various colleges, unorganized workers unions, fishermen associations, traders association, women’s and gender rights movements joined the hunger strike.
Shweta Narayan, who is on her 8th day of hunger fast, joined the dharna braving the heat of Chennai. 150 members including Kirtana, a 5 year old girl sat through the day singing songs of oppression and struggle and sloganeering against the government’s apathy. The protestors demanded that the central government fulfill the just demands of the Bhopal survivors, which included an empowered commission for implementing rehabilitation schemes for the affected people as well as taking legal action against DOW chemicals.
Ms. Chandra from Tamilnadu women’s collective spoke fervently about the callousness of the state, questioning time and again the legitimacy of a government that fails to stand by its people. She also referred to numerous issues in Tamilnadu, where the state government has acted with the same apathy. Extending her solidarity with the Bhopal survivors, she called for a long and sustained struggle for justice. Pughazhendi, a film director who has been consistently supporting the Bhopal cause, said that there was a danger of other Bhopals if we are not careful and take preventive action. Talking about the nuclear power plant in Kalpakkam, he said “we (residents of Chennai) are sitting close to a nuclear time bomb and the government has never even informed us about the danger”. He added that justice for Bhopal was justice for all the people of this country. Tha. Vellaiyan, president of the Tamilnadu Small Traders Association, extended his full support to the Bhopal gas survivors and assured that they would whole heartedly participate in the struggle to bring a guilty corporation to justice. Student leader Balasubramaniam said “leaders like P. Chidambaram who has no support among the people will only act for the good of companies even if it means betraying the people of the country.” He extended the support of the student community to the campaign against DOW and other criminal corporations.
Representatives of various political parties also joined the hunger strikers to extend their solidarity with the cause. Com. A.M. Gopu, national council member of CPI, while addressing the gathering said that his party has always stood beside the Bhopal survivors. He also said that they were updated about what was happening in Delhi and have expressed their disappointment to the PM. “We fully understand your demands and are in full support of them, we extend our whole hearted support to your struggle.” Viduthalai Chiruthaikal Katchi (Dalit Panthers of India) MLA, Mr. Ravikumar and AIADMK MLA, S.Ve Sekhar also joined the hunger fast. Poetess Thamizhachi visited the dharna stal to enquire about the health of Shweta Narayan and to show her solidarity with the people of Bhopal.
The Statement to the Prime Minister was endorsed by Tamilnadu Womens Collective, Kanchi Makkal Mandram, Coastal Peoples Protection Movement, Tamilnadu Manual Workers Union, Tamilnadu Fisherpeople Progressive Organization, Chennai Metro Workers Union, PUCL T.N and Puducherry, South India Fishermen’s Welfare Association, Penn Thozhilalar Sangam (Women Workers Union), WCCD Trust, Penn Urimai Iyyakam (Women Rights Movements), Unorganized Workers Federation, Community Environmental Monitoring, Tamilnadu Traders Association, Corporate Accountability Desk and The Other Media.
Mr. Vijaya. T. Rajendar, founder president of Illatchiya Dravida Munnetra Khazhagam, offered juice to the hunger strikers to conclude the one day fast. Shweta Narayan has decided to continue her fast. Before the end of the fast, the protestors also passed resolutions seeking high level probe into the death of Lalit Mehta and seeking the release of Dr. Binayak Sen.
Shweta Narayan (right)