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80 yr old women among Bhopal gas victims slapped with attempt to murder charges

Friday December 23, 2011 10:45:24 PM, Pervez Bari,

Rasheeda Bee, a victim, requesting police for restraint with folded hands

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Bhopal: The leaders of the five organisations working for the welfare of the victims and survivors of the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy, the world’s worst industrial catastrophe, have demanded dropping of criminal charges against 2000 survivors. They have been framed to have allegedly taken part in the violence that ensued following the “Rail Roko” agitation on December 3 last, the 27th anniversary of the disaster.

Addressing a joint press conference the leaders of the five NGOs here on Thursday said that 14 men have been arrested under false charges of murderous assault and other serious offences without a shred of evidence. The organisations claimed to have photographic and video evidence to show that violence on the 27th anniversary of the disaster was initiated by unprovoked attack on defenseless women survivors by armed policemen under the orders of the District Collector.

In addition to 14 people arrested, of which 11 are incidentally Muslims, there are many other gas victims who are facing serious charges like attempt to murder (IPC 307). Ms Batul Bee, Ms Rampyari Bai are over 80 years old are facing such serious charges. Ms Bano Bee, Balkrishan Namdeo, Ms Hazra Bee all over 60 years old are also facing same charges, the NGOs pointed out.

The organisations said that by criminally charging gas victims, some older than 80 years and most with health problems, the government was trying to suppress the survivors legitimate demand for adequate compensation from Union Carbide and Dow Chemical. They condemned the Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s going back on his promise of setting up “impartial” investigation into the violence on the 27th anniversary of the Bhopal gas disaster.

The organisations said that none of the 14 arrested on December 3 2011 ever had had any previous criminal case against them. They presented work place records to demonstrate that 6 out of the 14 arrested were not even present at the time of violence. They said that the police did not have any photographic or video graphic evidence to show that the 14 persons indulged in any attack on the police or public property.

However, it may be mentioned here that police administration have denied the charges levelled by the gas victims’ organisations saying that on the basis of concrete evidence arrests have been made and they have not been tortured as alleged. Senior Superintendent of Police Yogesh Choudhary has refuted the claims of the gas victims bodies.

Maulana Mufti Abdul Razzaq, a well-known spiritual leader of Bhopal Muslims, joined the Press conference and called for end of tyranny by the state. He said that he supports the demand for adequate compensation from the American companies and said that the false charges on innocent victims must be dropped without delay. He said that the disaster and police atrocities on the 27th anniversary have affected Hindus and Muslims alike and laid the blame for the violence on 3rd December on Chief Minister and Collector. A kin of the Maulana has also been arrested for the December 3rd violence.

Meanwhile, the organisations praised the Madhya Pradesh State Human Rights Commission, (MPSHRC), for issuing notice to the district and police administration on the violence of December 3. They said they have filed a complaint with the MPSHRC on the violation of legal and constitutional rights of the arrested persons. Family members of the arrested persons narrated that the arrested young men were beaten up, stripped to their underwear and kept in the lock up for over 48 hours before being produced in front of a magistrate. The arrested persons were also not told about their charges, given food or any protection from cold and were denied access to their lawyers or family members.

The organisations said that contrary to the Chief Minister Chouhan’s publicly stated promise of revising the figures of death and trying to ensure maximum compensation for all gas victims, the state government had taken no steps to correct the figures of deaths and injury in the Curative Petition before the Supreme Court. They said that instead of supporting the demands of the survivors’ organisations as promised in his public statement on the anniversary, the Chief Minister was harming the gas victim’s cause by demanding the inclusion of residents of 20 non affected wards in the list of claimants for compensation.

The organisations vowed to continue with their struggle for adequate compensation from Union Carbide and Dow Chemical and against the violation of their human rights by the police and district administration.

The five organisations which addressed the Press conference are: Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmchari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh, Morcha, Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Group for Information & Action and Children Against Dow Carbide.







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