Report from Bhopal
Leaders of the five organizations of survivors of the Union Carbide disaster in Bhopal welcomed the July 23, 2003, decision of the District Court to summon Dow Chemical, USA in the ongoing criminal case on the world's worst industrial disaster in December 1984. The organizations said the decision is a significant step towards establishing the criminal liability of Union Carbide, USA for the tens of thousands killed and hundreds of thousands injured due to leak of poisonous gases.
"Union Carbide, USA has been absconding from charges of manslaughter and other serious offences for the last 21 years, [this] decision is the beginning of the end of their running away", Said Rachna Dhingra whose organization, the Bhopal Group for Information and Action had moved the application for summoning Dow Chemical in February 2004.
Balkrishna Namdeo of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha expressed hope that an order against Dow Chemical will be more effective than any order against Union Carbide in the last 21 years has been. "While Carbide does not do business in India, Dow Chemical does through its many Indian subsidiaries. It cannot afford to disregard the orders of a District Court as Union Carbide has been doing all these years," He said.
According to Nawab Khan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha the summons against Dow Chemical would have been issued eight years back when it was first ordered by the Bhopal District Court on January 6, 2005. However, the State High Court had stayed the implementation of that order and the stay was vacated only in October 2012.
Rashida Bee of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh said that the summons against Dow Chemical will be served at their Midland, Michigan head quarters through the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. She expects the process to take less than three months.
Safreen Khan, a founder member of Children against Dow Carbide was hopeful that representatives of Union Carbide, USA would soon be made to appear in the criminal case that has moved nowhere all these years. "Dow Chemical’s days of sheltering a fugitive from justice are over" she said, "hopefully we will have Union Carbide’s Secretary in the docks here before too long."
Rashida Bee, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh,
Nawab Khan, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha,
Balkrishna Namdeo, Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha,
Satinath Sarangi, Rachna Dhingra, Bhopal Group for Information and Action,
Safreen Khan, Children Against Dow Carbide
‘China In Mali’
It is very strange that the commentator, whoever that be, calls the Chinese Govt sending its troops for a UN Mission in Mali [Vol 46, No 3, July 28-August 3, 2013] as an interference in the internal affairs of foreign countries. That way every country sending troops, for UN Missions—especially India has a record participation in this context—can be said to be interfering in the internal affairs of other countries.
I M Sharma, Hyderabad
This refers to the article ‘‘Kashmir Divided’’ [Frontier, Vol 45, No 51]. I have all along felt and stated in many articles that the only solution to Kashmir problem is to realize the harsh ground realities and divide J&K up between India and Pakistan. Let Kashmir Valley minus a district carved out around Amaranth Temple area go to Pakistan and Jammu and Ladakh (fully or a major part) go to India. This can be worked out through a joint agreement between India and Pakistan and conducting a regional plebiscite after reconstituting the regions (creating and taking away Temple Amaranth district from Kashmir valley and if necessary dividing Ladakh into 2 or 3 districts for dividing it up) and surely any such regional plebiscite will end in Kashmir valley voting for Pakistan and Jammu and Ladakh (minus Muslim majority areas) voting for India which will lend legitimacy to the joint agreement. If joint agreement is not possible, India should simply withdraw from Kashmir valley after carving out Amaranth temple district, separating it from Kashmir valley and merging it in Jammu and let that wretched valley to go to anywhere in the world. No sort of room should be given to the so-called Kahsmiri Azadi-wallahs and if they want they can carry out their Azadi agitation inside Pakistan (once joining that wretched country) and face the music.
I M Sharma, Hyderabad
One More Unlawful Arrest
Once again the Special Task Force (STF), West Bengal, flouted every norms as they picked up Jayeeta Das, a social activist from South Kolkata’s Charu Market area around 2 pm on August 2, 2013. Later in the evening on the same day the STF raided and ransacked her house without any warrant and intimidated her family members. While all this intimidation was on the family members were kept in the dark about the arrest of Jayeeta Das. The STF further intimidated and forced the family to sign on blank papers. Only through the media did the family come to know that Jayeeta Das was arrested.
A cursory look into the conduct of STF and similar intelligence agencies in West Bengal and elsewhere in the subcontinent proves beyond doubt the utter disdain for norms and procedures by these agencies. The right to see the warrant as well as the information for the family about the arrest of Jayeeta are fundamental. These norms and procedures are crucial for the detained/arrested as well as her kith and kin as the only way to safeguard oneself from torture, mal-treatment, let alone to much needed and timely access to a lawyer of her choice. To deny all this and to keep the family members in the dark about her arrest is premeditated from the side of the intelligence agencies so as to force the family (as they were forced to sign on blank papers) and the detained into some kind of confession that suits so as incriminate them.
This is not the first time that such acts of impunity have been committed by the intelligence agencies. On the contrary this has been the set pattern of the modus operandi of these agencies. That too despite several times the highest court in the subcontinent took exception to such criminal conducts of the agencies.
Committee for the Release
of Political Prisoners
Summoning Dow Chemical
US Chemical giant The Dow Chemical Company (Dow) must acknowledge its responsibility towards survivors of the devastating Bhopal industrial disaster, Amnesty International said after the Company was summoned to appear before a court in Bhopal, India.
The company has been ordered to explain why its wholly-owned subsidiary Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), has repeatedly ignored court summons in the ongoing criminal case concerning the 1984 Bhopal disaster, where UCC is accused of ‘‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder’’.
‘‘Dow has always tried to claim it has nothing to do with UCC’s liability for Bhopal, but the court has today made it clear that Dow itself has responsibility to ensure that UCC faces the outstanding charges against it. Dow can no longer turn its back on the tens of thousands still suffering in Bhopal’’.
Almost three decades after the Bhopal disaster, victims and their families have yet to receive adequate compensation from UCC or the Indian Government.
‘‘The summoning of Dow is potentially a giant step towards establishing the criminal liability of Union Carbide Corporation for one of the worst corporate disasters in world history’’, Satinath Sarangi, a member of Bhopal Group for Information and Action, a local campaign group, said.
‘‘As 100% owner of Union Carbide, Dow will now have to find a way to explain Union Carbide’s absconding from serious criminal charges for the last 21 years to the Bhopal Court’’. Said Hazra Bee, a survivor activist who lives right across from the former Union Carbide plant in Jaiprakash Nagar. The impacts of Bhopal continue to be felt today. Some 100,000 people continue to suffer from health problems. Ongoing pollution from toxic waste at the former factory site has never been addressed.
Research conducted by Amnesty International in December 2012 found that, since the gas leak, women in Bhopal have reported ongoing serious health issues inducing gynaecological and reproductive health disorders.
UCC held a majority share in Union Carbide India Limited, the Indian company that operated the pesticide plant responsible for the 1984 Bhopal gas leak, which it is estimated has killed more than 22,000 people.
In 1987, the Indian Government brought criminal charges of ‘‘culpable homicide not amounting to murder’’ against UCC and its former chairman Warren Anderson. Since then, UCC has repeatedly ignored court summons in India and has yet to face justice for its role in the Bhopal disaster. Anderson escaped trial by simply living abroad. A request by the Indian Government for his extradition is still pending with the US government.
Dow has owned UCC since 2011 but has consistently denied responsibility for any UCC liability in relation to Bhopal, ignoring calls by survivors and human rights groups to address the ongoing environmental and health impacts of the disaster.
Amnesty International, London
Vol. 46, No. 8, Sep 1-7, 2013
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