"Hang them!" Anger erupts as relatives come face to face with Union Carbide’s Indian executives outside court


Today they returned to Bhopal, the six Indian businessmen who were in charge of Union Carbide’s ill-fated and badly run factory. They came to a court where they are charged with criminal negligence.
On the night in question the factory was half shut down, safety systems dismantled, switched off or simply malfunctioning. When most needed, not a single safety system worked. No thought had been given to educating or warning those in surrounding communities about the possible dangers, or what to do in the event of a leak. Thus when 27 tonnes of a gas 500 times as toxic than cyanide erupted into their homes, eyes and lungs, people were caught by surprise and died before the surprise wore off.
Midnight in Bhopal, a cold wind blowing, the stars brilliant as they are in central India, even through the thin pall of cooking-fire smoke that hangs above the city. From the factory that so many learned to fear, a thin plume of white vapour begins streaming from a high structure. Caught by the wind, it becomes a haze and blows downward forming a dense fog. Nudged by the wind, it rolls across the road and into the alleys where families sleep. Here the houses are packed close, ill-built, with badly-fitting doors and windows. Those within are roused in darkness to the sound of screams with the gases in their eyes, noses and mouths. It burns terribly, it feels like fire. They begin retching and coughing up froth streaked with blood. There is panic. Entire communities run out of their houses in whatever they are wearing. As the gases ravage their bodies, some go into convulsions and fall dead. People lose control of their bodies and run with urine and faeces flowing down their legs. When dawn breaks over the city, thousands of bodies lie in heaps in the streets. Even far from the factory, the ground is so thick with the dead that you can not avoid treading on them.
Chubby, self-satisfied Keshub Mahindra (above) was Chairman of Union Carbide India Limited when the factory exploded and the world’s worst ever industrial disaster caused thousands to die hideously and injured half a million more. Upwards of 120,000 remain chronically ill, suffering from conditions that can never be healed, and the death toll is now over 20,000.
Three weeks ago, on 12 January, 2006, Mahindra was presented the Qimpro platinum standard for 2005 for “achievements that have met and surpassed global expectations.” The award citation hails Mahindra as a “distinguished industrialist, philanthropist and citizen. An iconic Indian, who has redefined corporate governance.”
To the Bhopalis awaiting him outside the court he is an iconic cunt, worthy only of the noose they dangled in his face.
As Mahindra and his subordinates entered the court, the crowd howled for them to be hanged, but the greatest punishment these men face is two years rigorous imprisonment.
Kishore Kamdar (below) was UCIL’s vice-president.
Kamdar was recently sought for questioning by the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) in the $100,000 defrauding of Lakhubhai Pathak the UK pickle tycoon (Pukka People Pick A Pot Of Pathak’s Pickle). In this case it seems that certain People Picked Pathak’s Pocket with a fake paper pulp contract. The final recipient of the pilfered cash was allegedly Kishore Kamdar.
Despite the hostility with which these men were received in Bhopal today, the deepest anger of the survivors and their friends was reserved for those who were not here, who have been refusing for 14 years to appear to answer the far more serious charge of criminal homicide.
The Union Carbide Corporation and Warren Anderson, its ex Chairman, continue to defy the court, and as a result have been declared criminal “absconders from justice”. But as is clear from Carbide’s own records, the Indian subsidiary and its officers, from Mahindra and Kamdar down, were firmly under the thumb of the US parent.
It was the central management committee of Union Carbide Corporation in Danbury, Connecticut, which approved the use of “unproven technology” in Bhopal.
It was US plant designers and management who decided to store methyl isocyanate in tanks the size of railway locomotives when most other manufacturers of the gas regarded it as so dangerous that it should not be stored at all but used up as soon as produced.
It was UCC executives who instituted a cost-cutting exercise that took out half the safety jobs in the Bhopal plant and reduced staff safety training from six months to two weeks.
It was on orders from the US that the refrigeration unit, meant to hold the tank of fatal gas at O degrees Celsius, was shut down to save some $37 a day of freon gas.
Dow Chemical, which acquired Union Carbide lock, stock and barrel in 2001, pretends it has no power to compel its 100% subsidiary to turn up to the court in Bhopal. It has said it will do nothing to clean up Union Carbide’s abandoned factory, which has poisoned the drinking water of 20,000 people.
Despite Dow’s contempt for Indian law, the Indian court and the Indian people, it expects to continue doing business in India, in fact it is seeking to expand. But Bhopal survivors and their allies have vowed to sweep Dow out of India.
Last year, the multinational lost a lucrative contract with the Indian Oil Corporation because it lied about the origin of the technology, which had been patented by the criminal Union Carbide. It was the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal which first brought this fact to the attention of the Indian authorities.
Now Bhopal supporters are targetting Dow products like Dursban which the company sells as “safe” in India despite its being banned for household use in the United States.
Protesters also plan to derail Dow Corning’s plans to establish a silicon factory in Pune.
“So long as they refuse to obey our laws, and our courts,” said a protester outside the court in Bhopal, “we will not allow them to do business in India. They will be driven out. In the meantime we will expose their double standards, their hypocrisy and their contempt for the safety and lives of Indians. We will expose the truth about Dow until decent people in this country would rather die of shame than work for them.”
Wonder what Keshub Mahindra felt as he faced the crowd this morning.

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