Rallies, protests, a street play, an exhibition and inauguration of a special museum marked the eve of the 30th anniversary of Bhopal gas tragedy on Tuesday.
The theme of the activities was common — justice for the tragedy survivors by the way of proper compensation, adequate medical care, early disposal of hazardous waste and punishment for the accused of the tragedy criminal case.
Three different rallies — two of them torch rallies in the evening — under the banner of different gas survivors’ organisations were conducted in Bhopal.
During the day, the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morcha burnt an effigy of Dow Chemical — the present holders of the Union Carbide factory. Later, they took out a rally from the Neelam Park to press their demands. This rally, led by activist Balkrishna Namdeo especially highlighted the pension issues of the women widowed during the tragedy.
The torch rally in the evening by Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan (BGPMUS) commenced from the Yadgar-e-Shahjehani Park and concluded at Central Library near the Bharat Talkies Square. The rally was led by activist Abdul Jabbar and activists’ associated with Shiksha Adhikar Manch and other local NGOs also participated in the rally.
A street play was organised by Sambhavna Trust. The trust also organised a photograph exhibition at the Iqbal Maidan.
Another torch rally was organised under the banner of International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB) and supporting organisations from Iqbal Maidan to the Union Carbide factory.
A delegation of Scottish Trade Union activists addressed the rally. The delegation is visiting Bhopal in response to a recent visit by survivors to Scotland and a motion of solidarity from the Scottish Trade Union Congress passed during the disabled workers’ conference.
The trade unions represented in the delegation are: Unison (public sector workers); Community (industrial workers); Unite (general workers); Communication Workers Union; National Union of Journalists; University and College Union as well as Scottish Trades Union Congress, Edinburgh Trade Union Council and the Hazards campaign.
Kathy Jenkins from the Scottish Hazards Campaign said, “We are here because Bhopal remains the worst industrial disaster of our time, but even more because the commitment, strength and endurance of the people of Bhopal provide inspiration to all of us to continue our struggles for safe workplaces and clean environments in Scotland and throughout the world.”
Trade unions raised concerns about safety years before the disaster happened and have also played a central role in the survivors’ struggle for justice. Eurig Scandrett from University and College Union said “The people of Scotland and across the UK will not forget Bhopal and will continue to offer our solidarity.”