A 12-year-old Indian-American activist tried to issue summons for Warren Anderson, former chief of Union Carbide over the deadliest 1984 gas disaster in Bhopal.
“Today we are here to appeal to Warren Anderson and summon him to the Indian court where he has been charged with culpable homicide, which is the equivalent of manslaughter in America,” Akash Viswanath Mehta said, standing outside a skyscraper on Park Avenue, which houses the law firm that represents Union Carbide.
Mehta along with his older brother, Gautama, 15, were asked to leave the premises by the building owners who said it was private property owned by H J Kalikow. The media was also not allowed to film on the property.
Akash, who had the 1992 summons along with a criminal chargesheet in an envelope, requested that the package be delivered to the legal offices of Kelly, Drye and Warren. The owners of the building responded that there was no one in the office and the activists should make an appointment or send the summons by post.
“Do you know they represent the CEO of a corporation that is absconding from justice in Bhopal India?” said Adrianne Raff Corwin, an activist from the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal (ICJB).
“He is being charged with culpable homicide...they are protecting a man who is basically responsible for murdering thousands of people in India and he should be extradited from America,” she added.
“It is not necessary for me to be able to understand you,” responded the building representatives who refused to identify himself.
The protest was organised by ICJB and Kids for a Better Future based in New York. The two groups noted that their objective was to remind that Anderson was still absconding and needed to respond to the outstanding charges.
When the summon bearers were told to leave, Akash read out a statement to a handful of building owners and cops. By the end of the demonstration the number of police officers had increased from one to six.
“Twenty-five years ago Warren Anderson escaped arrest and his day in court. I would like today to appear to Warren Anderson’s conscience, his guilt and his grief and ask him to stand beside me,” Akash said.
“If he is truly haunted by the disaster that happened on his watch, which destroyed an entire community I ask him to come forward and make a moral statement about what the right thing is for DOW and Union Carbide to do,” Akash added.
“According to American law the polluter must pay and so DOW the owner of Union Carbide must pay to clean up its mess” he said.
On the same day, another demonstration was organised outside the Indian embassy in Washington. “Because the Indian Prime Minister has not taken adequate action to ensure that these parties show up in court, activists are taking it into their own hands to provide summons,” the activists said.