CPI condemns custodial violence against Bhopalis; Urges Government address Bhopal Demands Immediately

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangi
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangarsh Morcha
Bhopal Group for Information and Action

PRESS RELEASE
NEW DELHI, 12 JUNE, 2008 — Talking to the media at the Bhopal dharna sthal in Jantar Mantar, CPI National Secretary D. Raja said:
“I have raised the Bhopal issue in parliament and outside repeatedly. I have written to the Prime Minister and had talks with various ministers and MPs. I learnt about the police action against the agitators a few days ago. I condemn the police action, and I condemn the arrest of the women. The Government should withdraw all charges against the Bhopalis forthwith, and should immediately release them. The Government should agree to the model law and set up a high powered commission as demanded by the Bhopal people. I know that several MPs cutting across political parties have extended their support to the Commission [proposed by the Bhopal organizations]. Why is the Government not making a serious effort to resolve these issues. This Government says it is for the “Aam Admi.” Are these people not your Aam Aadmi? How long does the Government expect the victims to sit on the pavement? And if the Government does not act, what else is left to common people but to agitate, to struggle?”
Twenty-five people, including 23 women, are in judicial custody since 10 June for participating in a non-violent demonstration outside the Prime Minister’s Office on 9 June. Fourteen children who also participated in the protest were detained overnight at Parliament Street police station and released late the next day. During their detention, children ranging in age from 6 to 16, and Goldman Environmental Prize winner Rashida Bee were physically abused by the police. One youth was hurt in his eye, and sent to the hospital on 9 June night. Some of the Parliament Street policepersons who were identified by the Bhopalis include: Mahendra Singh, Naresh Malik, Suraj Bhan, Yad Ram and policewoman Manisha as key participants in the abuse.
Two women – Rachna Dhingra and Meera More – who are currently in Tihar Jail, began an indefinite hunger strike on 10 June along with 7 other Bhopal activists who are carrying out their fast from Jantar Mantar. So far, 43 people from 5 countries have signed up through the www.bhopal.net website to fast in solidarity with the Bhopalis. Among these six, including Booker-shortlisted author Indra Sinha, Texas-based fisherwoman and activist Diane Wilson, and four others from US and India have said they will fast indefinitely with the Bhopalis until justice is done.
The Bhopal organizations are demanding a Special Empowered Commission to address economic, social, medical and environmental rehabilitation and provision of clean water. They have also asked for legal action against Dow and Union Carbide. A statement read by the PM’s emissary Mr. Prithviraj Chavan conveyed its in-principle agreement to a Commission, but remained silent on the matter of legal action against Dow and Carbide. Even on the issue of the Commission, the PM’s statement is vague and devoid of crucial details such as timelines and budget.
Bhopal survivors and victims of water contamination have been sitting on dharna at Jantar Mantar since March 28, which is when 50 of them arrived after covering 800 km on foot from Bhopal to New Delhi.
While commending the CPI for playing an active role in projecting their demands in the parliament, the Bhopal survivors have called upon other left parties, particularly the CPM, to use its influence to ensure that the UPA Government doesn’t veer off the path of justice in Bhopal.
For more information, contact:
Satinath Sarangi: 9717516003

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