The lingering resentment against Warren Anderson, the prime accused in the Bhopal gas disaster, surfaced as survivors of the lethal accident distributed sweets and vented their anger on his photograph after the news of his death spread on Friday.
The 92-year-old former chairman of the Union Carbide Corp. died in a US hospital late last month but the death was not announced by the family and could be confirmed only from public records.
Anderson, who fled India and never returned to face justice, remains a hate figure for many in the country following a poisonous gas leak from the company’s chemicals plant in Bhopal that killed some 3,000 people in the accident’s immediate aftermath. Over the years, thousands more have been maimed from side-affects.
Read:Survivors vow to carry on struggle
On Friday, as soon as news of his death spread, a group of survivors reached the office of the NGO Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan (BGPMUS) and started distributing sweets.
Convener of the BGPMUS, Abdul Jabbar, has been one of the most vocal activists for the survivors.
"It was an instantaneous reaction on part of the people who have suffered extremely for all this years. The fact that they could think of distributing sweets over a death shows the extent of their resentment and anger," Jabbar said.
Later, five survivors' organisations held a 'public condemnation meet' before the defunct Union Carbide factory. In a show of hatred, some spat on a large photograph of Anderson and hit it with footwear.
"He faced grave criminal charges of homicide, grievous assault and killing and poisoning of animals, and if convicted would have spent a lifetime in jail,” said Rashida Bee, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh.
“Yet he never spent a day in jail because the US government protected him to his dying day."
According to Nawab Khan, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha the criminal, civil and environmental liabilities of Union Carbide and Dow Chemical remain unchanged with Anderson's death.
Dow Chemical now owns Union Carbide but denies any responsibility because it says it bought the company a decade after Union Carbide had settled its liabilities with the Indian government in 1989 by paying $470 million for the victims.
"We will pressure the Indian government to now seek extradition of John Macdonald, Union Carbide's secretary," Khan said.