Containment action deferred for now; Whose side is the government on?

Background - 30 November, 2002
November 28, 2002: Representatives of the International campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB), a coalition of local, national and international organizations, announced their decision to postpone the planned toxic material containment action inside the abandoned Union Carbide pesticide factory, owing to non-availability of protective gear, equipment and the expertise at short notice. The campaigners also demand to know whether the Madhya Pradesh government will be on the side of the criminal corporation Dow-Carbide, or of the gas victims and their supporters campaigning for justice in Bhopal.

Will the police be order to act against the criminals in Bhopal - Dow?

The campaigners, including leaders of survivors' organization and foreign experts who had volunteered to this public safety action, strongly condemned the confiscation by the police of the safety masks and equipment and transport hired in Bhopal for making the toxic wastes safe. They condemned the fact that in 18 years, the police have not taken a single step against Dow-Carbide - the criminal corporation responsible for the poisoning of soil and groundwater. Instead, the police and the State Government have shown remarkable alacrity in seizing the equipment and violently removing people engaged in containing the toxic wastes lying inside the factory.

To substantiate their allegation they attached a complaint filed at the Gautam Nagar police station on 2nd April, 2001 against Ravi Muthukrishnan, Managing Director of Dow Chemical India regarding the incident of fire inside the factory on March 21, 2001 in which 32 families of Atal - Ayub Nagar suffered damages and thousands of people were exposed to toxic gases.

Calling the police seizure of safety equipment illegal, the campaigners reiterated their decision to repeat the stalled action of 25th November at a later date. The ICJB campaigners were certain that given the tremendous local support to their planned action, their next attempt would be successful. They regretted the negative attitude of the state government towards their formal application for permission to carry out the action, and condemned the state violence on victims of the gas disaster involved in containing the toxic wastes.

Survivors and their supporters have invited the Government to participate in the model containment action by sending a team of observers to ascertain and understand that the planned mini-containment was being done in the interest of the victims of Bhopal.

The campaigners condemned the state government's attempts to deny the foreign activist's freedom to offer humanitarian help by questioning their visa status. They remarked that the state government was being virtually run by agents of foreign capital like the Asian Development Bank, DFID and the World Bank and it was ever welcoming towards multinational corporations. At the same time the government unleashes brutalities on foreign guests fighting the crimes of multinationals. The Government now stands exposed as gas-affected communities have come out in open support of the actions of the ICJB people engaged in containing the poisons at the Carbide site.

The ICJB announced that towards the build-up to the 18th anniversary, there are many events are planned which include Raghu Rai's exhibition of photographs of Bhopal Gas disaster at Madhya Pradesh Kala Parishad, a Corporate Crime Film festival at Technical Teacher's Training Institute and participation in the anniversary rally with survivors of Bhopal and victims from other Indian toxic hotspots.