Published On:18 December 2011
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

Bhopal gas victims submit petition to IOA, plead London Olympics boycott

By Pervez Bari

Bhopal: Two representatives of the victims of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, the world’s worst industrial catastrophe, along with the former hockey Olympian Aslam Sher Khan, who is the newly elected president of the Olympian Association of India, (OAI), met Mr. Vijay Kumar Malhotra, the acting president of Indian Olympic Association, (IOA), in New Delhi and submitted a petition signed by nearly 1000 people pleading that IOA should boycott London Olympics over Dow Chemical sponsorship issue.

Rasheeda Bee, the inspiring Bhopal survivor and well-known activist, and 16 year old Safreen Khan of Children Against Union Carbide, supported by former Olympic hockey star Aslam Sher Khan met Malhotra. Both the ladies were also a part of the recent “Rail Roko” (Train Blockade) protest, where the Bhopal police had cane-charged thousands of protesters.

It may be mentioned here that this is the first time Bhopal victims have had the opportunity of presenting their case for a boycott of London Olympics to the members of the IOA.

The delivery of the petition comes as the IOA prepares for a critical meeting with the International Olympic Committee on Thursday (15 December). The IOA is under increasing pressure to boycott the London Olympics as victims of the Bhopal disaster prepared to confront them directly over sponsorship of the games by Dow Chemicals.

The victims say India needs to take a tough stand, but other prominent sportspersons have said a boycott will serve no purpose and that politics should be kept out of sport.

There is another petition started by British nurse Lorraine Close and which calls on Dow Chemicals to be dropped as a sponsor of the 2012 Olympics, has more than 10,500 signatures

Meanwhile, talking to this Correspondent over phone from New Delhi Aslam Sher Khan informed that Malhotra while expressing sympathy for the Bhopal gas victims assured to do his level best at his level that their painful voices are heard and their feelings are respected. However, he said the final decision for boycott has to be taken by the Government of India and not IOA, Aslam added.

When asked about his stand over the issue Aslam Sher reiterated India should not participate in the London Olympics-2012 if Dow Chemical was not dropped from event's sponsorship.

When confronted that the boycott would unsettle many sportspersons who have been preparing untiringly for the great Olympic participation dream for last two-three years, Aslam said: "Being an Olympian, I do understand the feeling of players who work hard to participate in event like Olympics and that how important it is for their careers. But the question is of lakhs of people who have been suffering silently for last 27 years without being adequately compensated".

Arjuna award winner and former hockey Olympian Syed Jalaluddin Rizvi, who started the Indian petition, said: “With thousands protesting from India and London, The IOA should realise the crimes committed by Dow Chemical and should boycott Dow sponsored London Olympics 2012.”

It may be pointed out here that Dow Chemical acquired Union Carbide as a wholly owned subsidiary in 2001. They are, therefore, responsible for the clean-up of the former Union Carbide Factory site in Bhopal. The area around the factory is densely populated and continues to be heavily contaminated by chemicals and toxins produced by the factory which Dow, despite their evident responsibility, have thus far refused to clean-up. The situation in Bhopal is a humanitarian and environmental catastrophe that continues to affect tens of thousands of people today.

It may be recalled here that 40 tones of methyl isocyanate, (MIC – a highly volatile toxic chemical), gas spewed from the pesticide plant – owned by Union Carbide India Limited, (UCIL), a subsidiary of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), USA – in the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984. The gas leak killed 3,000 people instantly and more than 25,000 over the years and inflicting grievous injuries on countless others. Many were deformed for life and many children born with the toxic effect are sick and with congenital malformations. It also affected 100,000 people that night and estimates are that more than 500,000 continue to suffer till date.

[Pervez Bari is a senior Journalist based at Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Madhya Pradesh). He can be contacted at pervezbari@eth.net]

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on December 18, 2011. Filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

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