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Bhopal gas victims stage dharna against Clinton visit

The Hindu March 24, 2000

MUMBAI, MARCH 23. The victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy staged a dharna here today, accusing the U.S. President, Mr. Bill Clinton, of being interested only in promoting `colonial and hazardous investment by U.S. multinationals' and urging the Prime Minister, Mr. A. B. Vajpayee, to address the `lingering issues of that disaster'.

Dismayed at the lack of solutions to their problems, the agitators told newsmen at the dharna site that tomorrow's session of the US-India Business Council (USIBC), to be addressed by Mr. Clinton would amount to a `cold-blooded prescription for Bhopal- like industrial massacres all over the country.' A copy of the USIBC agenda was also burnt.

Ms. Rashida Bi, Mr. Balkrishna Namdeon and Mr. Abdul Jabbar, heading various organisations championing the cause of the victims, denounced Mr. Clinton's visit to India and they were upset that he did not go to Bhopal to see how `we are dying or surviving since the last 16 years because of the negligence of a U.S-based MNC which led to the death of 3,000 and ``physically affecting 1,20,000.''

What irked them most was that the USIBC's agenda should consist of, according to their reckoning, bringing down tariffs on chemicals while liberalising laws that would dilute liability mechanisms in case of similar disasters in the future. They wanted Mr. Clinton to ensure that Union Carbide faced trial for its crime against humanity.

In a six-page letter to Mr. Vajpayee, they went into the whole gamut of issues and referred to his participation in the demonstration against the collusive settlement and his courting arrest on February 24, 1989.

Mahesh Vijapurkar

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