Obama, Tata face wrath of Bhopal survivors

December 2nd, 2010 - 2:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Barack Obama By Shahnawaz Akhtar
Bhopal, Dec 2 (IANS) They had nothing to do with the Bhopal gas tragedy, but US President Barack Obama and Tata Group chairman Ratan Tata are still the target of public anger on the 26th anniversary of the world’s worst industrial disaster - on the ground that have not done enough for survivors.

“On Dec 2 and Dec 3, we will not only burn the effigy of then CEO of Union Carbide Waren Anderson but also other people who are saving him from the charges. It includes Barack Obama, Ratan Tata along with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Home Minister P. Chidambaram,” Satinath Sarangi of Bhopal Group for Information and Action told IANS.

On the night of Dec 2-3, 1984, 40 tonnes of methyl isocyanate gas leaked out from the now defunct Union Carbide plant. At least 3,000 were killed instantly and an estimated 25,000 have lost their lives since then.

It also affected 100,000 people that night and estimates are more than 500,000 still continue to suffer in myriad ways, some psychologically scarred, some emotionally tormented.

Sarangi explained why Obama deserves the wrath of survivors.

“The US government had taken stern action against British Petroleum in the oil spill case in which only 11 people were killed but they never acknowledged the worst industrial disaster caused by an American company,” he said.

“Warren Anderson lives in America but during Obama’s tour to India, Obama did not utter a single word on the Bhopal gas tragedy,” he said. Anderson was chief of Union Carbide when the tragedy occurred.

Prior to and during Obama’s Nov 6-9 India tour, the survivors left no stone unturned to get their voices heard but the historic tour ended without a mention about the disaster that has earned itself a new time-line in history chapters.

Sarangi also explained why Tata is in the list.

“He is the co-chairperson of USIBC (United States-India Business Council) which had organised Obama’s tour to India. But prior to the arrival of Obama to India, we had mailed and sent him several letters to arrange a 10-minute meeting with him but Tata did not act on it and remained indifferent like others,” he said.

The five organisations - Children Against Dow-Carbide, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangarsh Morcha, Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangarsh Morcha, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationary Karamchari Sangh and Bhopal Group for Information and Action - together released a book about the disaster.

The book has a caricature showing survivors furiously hitting the statue of Dow-Carbide but Obama, Tata and Manmohan Singh holding it and not letting it fall.

“Till the time we do not get justice, we will not spare any person who would deny justice. And if this battle will be fought in coming generations too, we would fight till the last breath,” said an emotionally-charged Safreen Khan of Children Against Dow-Carbide.

(Shahnawaz Akhtar can be contacted be at shahnawaz.a@ians.in)

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