Indian accused appear in court to face charges as Union Carbide and Warren Anderson continue to ignore summons

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
Bhopal ki Aawaaz

PRESS STATEMENT, FEBRUARY 6, 2006
Victims of the December ’84 Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal today demonstrated at the District Court demanding exemplary punishment for the accused officers of the Indian subsidiary of the American multinational who were summoned before the Chief Judicial Magistrate.
The protestors demanded that Keshub Mahindra, Vijay Gokhale, Kishor Kamdar, J. Mukund and S.P. Choudhury former chairman, managing director, vice-president, works manger and production manager respectively of Union Carbide India Limited [UCIL] should be made to undergo the maximum punishment of two years of rigorous imprisonment in the criminal case regarding death and injury due to the disaster on 2-3, December 1984.
gallowswelcome.jpg
Protestors including victims, who lost several family members to the poisonous gas leak from Union Carbide’s pesticide factory, erected a gallows (see picture above) outside the District Court to “welcome” the Indian accused. The foreign accused in the case namely, Union Carbide Corporation, its Asian subsidiary Union Carbide Eastern and former Chairman Warren Anderson are absconding from more severe charges in the case.
The Bhopal victims complained of the slow pace and mishandling of the case by the prosecution and condemned the Indian government’s deliberate negligence in this regard. They called for the setting up of a Special Prosecution Cell including representatives of the Ministry of External affairs.
The case began with the filing of charge sheet by the Central Bureau of Investigation [CBI] in December 1987 against nine Indian and three foreign corporations and their officials who were charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder. The criminal charges were quashed by the order of Supreme Court of India on the settlement between Union Carbide and the Government of India on February 14-15, 1989. Subsequently, a revised order of the Supreme Court in October 1991 reinstated the criminal charges and in November 1991 criminal cases were revived in the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s Court at Bhopal.
On September 13, 1996, responding to an appeal by Keshub Mahindra and others, the Supreme Court brought down the charges against the Indian accused from culpable homicide [Sec 304 Part II of the IPC] to death by negligence [Sec 304 A] thereby reducing the maximum punishment from 10 years of imprisonment to two years. The Bhopal activists blamed the CBI for the dilution of criminal charges against the Indian accused and condemned the “turning the worst industrial disaster in history in to a common motor vehicle accident”.
Assistant works manager R.B. Roy Chowdhury, also an accused, in the case died in January 1998 in USA. In 2002 Keshub Mahindra had to withdraw from being a recipient of the Padma Vibhusan award as a result of protest by Bhopal victims and their supporters.
Champa Devi Shukla
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh
+91 755 93031 32959
Syed M Irfan,
Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha
+91 755 93290 26319
Shahid Noor
Bhopal ki Aawaaz
+91 755 98261 82226
Satinath Sarangi, Rachna Dhingra,
Bhopal Group for Information and Action
+91 755 98261 67369
Contact: House No. 12, Gali No. 2, Near Naseer Masjid,
Bag Umrao Dulha, Bhopal 462 010
For latest information on Bhopal disaster keep checking www.bhopal.net

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