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Bhopal gas tragedy survivors welcome court notice to summon Dow Chemical
Wednesday July 24, 2013 11:37 PM, Pervez Bari, ummid.com

Leaders of the five NGOs (non-government organizations) working for the welfare of survivors of the Bhopal gas tragedy have welcomed the decision of the Bhopal District Court to summon Dow Chemical, USA in the ongoing criminal case on the world's worst industrial disaster in December 1984.

The representatives of the NGOs 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 from the Union Carbide's pesticide factory in Bhopal.

"Union Carbide, USA has been absconding from charges of manslaughter and other serious offences for the last 21 years. Tuesday's decision is the beginning of the end of their running away." said Ms 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 can not 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.

Ms 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 and added: "hopefully we will have Union Carbide's Secretary in the docks here before too long."

It may be recalled here that on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984 Union Carbide pesticide manufacturing factory had spewed poisonous Methyl Iso-cyanate gas whereby 3000 people had perished virtually instantly and over the years more than 25000 have kissed death and the sad saga is still continuing uninterruptedly. About half a million are suffering from the side effects of the poisonous gas and several thousand people have been maimed for life. (pervezbari@eth.net)

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