Monday, June 7, 2010

Victims say Bhopal sentence too lenient

A court in Bhopal today found eight people guilty of the world’s worst industrial disaster sentencing themto two years imprisonment and imposed fine of 100,000 rupees (US$2,200) each, 25 years after the crime.
They were released on bail for a personal bond of 25,000 rupees ahead of an expected appeal.
The survivors and their supporters have expressed disappointment over the verdict.
“We are not happy with the order as the government has manipulated investigating agencies to get a simple punishment for the accused in the world’s worst human tragedy,” Sadana Pradhan, an activist, told
The eight had been charged with a range of relatively minor offences such as causing death by negligence and hiding information.
The victims want the guilty booked for “culpable homicide not amounting to murder” for which the maximum punishment is 10 years in prison. “We will continue to fight either until our death or until every victim gets justice,” said Pradhan.
The tragedy occurred on Dec. 3, 1984 when 40 tons of poisonous methyl isocyanate leaked out of the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, capital of Madhya Pradesh state.
The incident has since then claimed more than 20,000 lives. Some 550,000 people are engaged in legal battles for justice.
The victims would appeal against the verdict, said Balkrishan Namdev, a survivor. Nonetheless, he said the victims have some reason for comfort as the court has found some people guilty after 25 years.
The victims also staged a sit-in in front of the court after the police stopped them from entering it. The police also barred media persons, resulting in a scuffle on the premises.
The victims and their supporters also shouted slogans against the federal government for apparently showing leniency toward the main accused, Warren Anderson, who was chairperson of Union Carbide at the time of the tragedy.
The court had issued arrest warrants against Anderson and when he failed to turn up, declared him an absconder.
The convicts men are the chairman of the Indian arm of the Union Carbide, Keshub Mahindra, managing director VP Gokhale, vice president Kishore Kamdar, works manager J Mukund, assistant works manager RB Roy Chowdhury (deceased), production manager SP Chowdhury , plant superintendent KV Shetty and production assistant SI Qureshi. All are Indians.

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