Victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy have called upon Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to visit Bhopal and “lead the nation in paying homage to the gas victims” on the occasion of the 25th ‘anniversary’ of the biggest industrial disaster in the world.
Civil society groups Bhopal Gas Peedith Mahila Udyog Sanghathan (BGPMUS) and the Bhopal Gas Peedith Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti (BGPSSS), in a written letter to the PM have expressed concern and “shock over the UPA government’s silence over the state of the victims”.
“We want the honourable PM to see the conditions of the victims and the state of the medical access they have, which is pathetic,” said Abdul Jabbar, a prominent activist leading the struggle for justice to the gas victims.
The letter also expresses concern over the government’s relative indifference towards the victims compared to other events.
“We cannot help notice that your honourable self had led the nation in paying homage to the late Prime Minister Smt.Indira Gandhi on her 25th death anniversary. We gather from personal knowledge and through media reports that a series of events were lined up to commemorate Smt. Indira Gandhi's death anniversary from 31 October 2009 to 19 November 2009, which happens to be Indiraji's birth anniversary,” read the letter.
The activists have asked that if Mrs. Gandhi’s death anniversary programs could go on for such a long duration, why the PM couldn’t spend some time towards the collective grief of the victims of the tragedy.
The gas leak in the pesticide plant of the Union Carbide factory at Bhopal, in 1984, had resulted in the death of over 20,000 people and had caused injuries to over 550,000 others. The official toll of dead and injured gas-victims as determined by the Office of the Welfare Commissioner, Bhopal, through the process of adjudication is 574,367.
The letter draws the PMs attention to “the utter callous attitude of successive governments towards the fate of the gas-victims is exemplified by the thoughtless manner in which the ICMR stopped all medical research on the long term effects of the toxic gases on the gas-exposed population of Bhopal way back in 1994”.
The groups have urged the PM “to visit Bhopal on 03 December 2009 so that you could not only pay homage to the victims of the tragedy but also make a direct assessment of the travails that the survivors are continuing to face even 25 years of the tragedy”.