Bhopal: Syed M. Irfan
(62), a frontline activist for justice in the case against Union
Carbide and himself a survivor of the Bhopal gas disaster, died
Friday afternoon at his home after long illness.
Despite being severely exposed to the toxic gas in the 1984
industrial disaster, Irfan, who was president of Bhopal Gas Peedit
Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, led several demonstrations for
justice to fellow survivors.
He leaves behind his wife and two sons.
"We, his fellow campaigners mourn Irfan Bhai's death and resolve
to continue with the struggle with which he was associated for the
larger part of his life", said Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group for
Information and Action (BGIA), a social organisation.
The Union Carbide disaster, in which poisonous methyl isocyanate
gas leaked from the plant on the night of Dec 2-3, 1984, killed
3,000 people instantly and 25,000 over the years. It also affected
100,000 people that night and estimates are that more than 500,000
continue to suffer from ill effects of the gas till date.
In 2006, despite frail health Irfan marched from Bhopal to Delhi
seeking medical care and rehabilitation for the people poisoned in
the Union Carbide gas disaster.
Following the take-over of Union Carbide by Dow Chemicals in 2001,
he devoted himself to mobilising public opinion on the issue of
toxic contamination in and around the factory.
Irfan travelled to several places within India, including Chennai,
New Delhi, Mumbai, Plachimada in Kerala, Raipur, and other places
to raise awareness on the Bhopal tragedy and to express solidarity
with other people's movements in the country.
He was part of the joint front of four organisations - Bhopal Gas
Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit
Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha, Children Against Dow Carbide,
Bhopal Group for Information and Action (BGIA) - since 2004 and
was a member of International Coalition for Justice in Bhopal.