Survivors of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy on Saturday burnt an effigy of US President Barack Obama to protest against his government “shielding” the Dow Chemical.
Dow Chemical, which bought Union Carbide Corporation in 2001, is evading hearings in a case related to the tragedy at a Bhopal court, NGOs working for the survivors alleged.
Various NGOs expressed outrage at the recent response by the US President’s office to a petition by over a million signatories calling for the US Department of Justice to serve the Bhopal court’s notice on Dow Chemicals in US.
Toxic gas from the Bhopal factory of US-headquartered Union Carbide leaked on the night of December 2-3, 1984, killing thousands of people and injuring many.
A local court had declared Union Carbide Corporation an “absconder” in 1992 and has served four notices on Dow since 2014 seeking its appearance for informing whereabouts of UCC, said Rachna Dhingra, member of ‘Bhopal Group for Information and Action’.
The US Department of Justice was cooperating neither with the local court nor with the Indian government to execute the notice to Dow, therefore protesters burnt an effigy of the US President at Neelam Park, she said.
They would also hold demonstrations outside US consulates in India demanding the government of that country stop “shielding” Dow Chemical, a joint release by the NGOs said.
“We will also send out tweets to @POTUS and @PMO asking them to make Dow Chemicals appear for the hearing on August 19,” the NGOs said.
“The White House has said asking the US Department of Justice to serve notice on Dow Chemical would amount to exercising ‘undue influence’. This is extreme duplicity. How can asking the Department to follow the terms of the treaty between India and US be improper?” asked Balkrishna Namdeo, president of `Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pensionbhogi Sangharsh Morcha’.
Nawab Khan of ‘Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha’ said, “The US Government’s refusal to follow its treaty with India under the pretext of not using undue influence is heavy with irony.
“There is documentary evidence of the US government using undue influence to help Union Carbide set up the killer factory in Bhopal and to protect its chairman Warren Anderson from criminal proceedings in the Bhopal court,” he said.
“We are shocked that the Indian government and particularly the Home Ministry which sent the Bhopal court’s notice to the US Department of Justice have chosen to remain quiet about the repeated violation of the 25-year-old Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty between India and US,” said Rachna Dhingra.