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Glimmer of hope for Bhopal gas victims, curative petition to be amended

Sunday January 08, 2012 11:39:40 AM, Pervez Bari,

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Bhopal: The Bharatiya Janata Party ruled Madhya Pradesh Government has reportedly conceded to make corrections in the curative petition about the number of deaths and injuries before the Supreme Court.

Leaders of five NGOs (non-Government organizations) working for the welfare of the survivors of the Union Carbide disaster who met with the Chief Secretary, Government of Madhya Pradesh on Saturday said that they were hopeful of a positive response to their demands from the state government.

According to Bhopal Group for Information and Actions convener Satinath Sarangi the Madhya Pradesh Government Chief Secretary Avani Vaish had told them that Additional Solicitor General Vivek Tankha had agreed to get the figure corrected in Supreme Court within a period of two weeks time.

" Vaish also told us that government is ready to change figures of deaths from 5295 to 15342. Secondly, there will no minor injuries category. It means there will only category of major injuries of 5.5 lakh gas victims and they will be given Rs. 5 lakh each", he said.

Rachna Dhingra also of Bhopal Group for Information and Action said: "We will carry on our demonstration till we get written assurance from the authorities. Out agitation will get stronger by the day".

The organizations have pointed out that the figure being mentioned by the state government is only till 1997 while studies by the state government’s Centre for Rehabilitation Studies have shown that at least one person died due to gas exposure every day in the year 2000, three years after registration of death claims was arbitrarily stopped.

According to the leaders who met with the Chief Secretary today, the state government has agreed to present injuries caused by the disaster as permanent instead of categorizing 93 per cent of the victims as only temporarily injured in the current version of the curative petition. They said that this will enable majority of victims to receive adequate compensation from the American corporations. The organizations have sent facts and arguments in support of upward revision of damage figures to the Additional Solicitor General as requested by the state government.

Meanwhile, the organizations stated that they were still awaiting the government’s response to their second demand of withdrawal of criminal cases against 2000 gas victims including women older than 80 years following "Rail Roko" agitation. They called for setting up of an independent and impartial inquiry as promised by the Chief Minister and demanded that legal action against those responsible for the incident of violence should be initiated only after the findings of the independent and impartial inquiry are made public.

Besides, the NGOs offered "Badua" (curse) for Bhopal District Collector Nikunj Shrivastava as mark of protest of cane-charge during "Rail Roko" agitation. While "Badduas" were showered on the crowd endorsed them with Amen, Amen.

The five organisations which are staging demonstration included Children Against Dow Carbide, Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha and Bhopal Group for Information and Action. They are staging indefinite dharna for the last two days demanding the government to correct the figures of the dead and injured in the soon- to- be- heard curative petition in the Supreme Court. They alleged that both the Centre and state governments were disregarding the promises made to them in the past and the dharna would continue till the authorities concerned put the correct figures in the curative petition.

"Our protests are peaceful and we believe in non-violence", said Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha's Balkrishna Namdev said . "we welcome the decision of the government but we will continue till fulfillment of demands".

Meanwhile, activists associated with Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udhyog Sangathan (BGPMUS) along with parents of persons jailed in connection with “Rail Roko” agitation of gas victims formed a human chain in front of Yaadgar-e-Shahjahani Park to protest against police action on “innocent persons”.

Stating that the majority of the 16 persons detained under Section 307 of the IPC are innocent and were picked up by the police from areas adjacent to the site of violence only to avenge heavy stone pelting on police during the agitation, BGPMUS convenor Abdul Jabbar said that ironically they have not been able to obtain bail from the court for a month either.

He demanded that persons jailed should be released forthwith as they are not only innocent but were bread winners of their respective families and their detention has brought their families on the verge of starvation.








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