Anger and frustration was palpable in Bhopal on Wednesday as hundreds of survivors of gas tragedy supported by local, national and international level activists and organisations took to the streets to reiterate demand of justice for Bhopal on the 30th anniversary of the disaster.
Meanwhile, speaking at the all religion prayer meet organised by the government, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said, “We should resolve that such crime against humanity like the Bhopal gas disaster never recurs.”
He also assured to look personally into the pending issues of the tragedy survivors while meeting a delegation of survivors and NGO representatives. A condolence meet, two major rallies and effigy burnings saw participation of survivors and supporters, young and old. They raised slogans and displayed banners with strong message against those held responsible for the tragedy and the issues lingering in its aftermath.
In a strong show of anger, some supporters spit at the big cutouts symbolizing Union Carbide – from where the deadly gas leaked just after midnight on December 2/3, 1984 and Dow Chemicals (the present holder of the UC), before they were set afire.
The main hum was ‘justice and life of dignity’ for the survivors as rallies wound their way through congested roads of old Bhopal. Schools, colleges and state government offices remained closed as tribute to tragedy victims.
‘Dow quit India’ a banner screamed while another said in Hindi ‘Shivraj Singh, gas key teen dashak par sharm karo’ (Shivraj Singh, feel ashamed on three decades of gas tragedy). ‘No Justice in Bhopal, No business in India’ another said.
A rally under joint banner of five survivor organisations including Bhopal Group of Information and Action started from Hamidia Tiraha and ended in front of the abandoned Union Carbide (UC) factory, where cutouts of UC and Dow were burnt.
In a statement, the organisations made an appeal to people all over the world to put pressure on responsible parties to end the disaster before 2014.
Another rally under the banner of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan started from Yadgar-e-Shahjehani Park and ended at Neelam Park where effigies representing judiciary, politicians and multinational companies were burnt. Before this, a condolence meet was organised, where organisations such as Shiksha Adhikar Manch, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha and others participated. Activists Abdul Jabbar, Medha Patkar, Jhanaklal Thakur, Prof Hargopal and Anil Sadgopal addressed the meet.
Effigies were also burnt by the local unit of Communist Party of India and NGO Bhopal Gas Peedit Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti. Aam Aadmi Party leaders including Alok Agrawal participated in both the rallies.
DELEGATION MEETS CM: A 15-member delegation including Abdul Jabbar and above mentioned activists met MP chief minister and submitted a memorandum on the long standing demands. The chief minister assured the delegation that he would personally inspect the medical and economic rehabilitation facilities for the survivors.
ALL RELIGION PRAYER MEET: As an official event to mark the 30th anniversary of the tragedy, an all-religion prayer meeting was organised at Barkatullah Bhavan on Wednesday morning. Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan led the representatives of the government who paid tributes to the victims of the tragedy.
Speaking on the occasion, the CM said his government is committed not to let any other city become Bhopal of December 3, 1984.
“We should not forget safety concerns in the blind race of development,” he said adding that the responsibility of better medical care and rehabilitation of the survivors lie with the government and society.