New Delhi, May 5 : Bhopal gas tragedy victims were on Monday detained by the police in New Delhi when they forcibly tried to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
The protesters have been camping in the national capital since March 28 with the hope of meeting the PM, but the wait proved futile and finally they tried to force their way into the PM's residence.
"Today, the Bhopal gas victims' children came to meet the PM but were thwarted by the police. We started our march on foot from Bhopal on February 20 and reached Delhi on March 28. Since then all of us are waiting in Jantar Mantar in the hope that the Prime Minister will meet us and listen to our pleas. Today after 38 days, the children tried to meet the PM and police did not allow them to do so," said Hajira Bi, one of the protesters.
The victims demanded action against companies like Union Carbide and Dow Chemicals that are responsible for the world's worst industrial disaster and the pathetic condition of victims, several of them maimed and diseased for life and their progeny also suffering from incurable ailments.
More than 3,500 people died in the days and weeks after toxic fumes spewed out of a pesticide plan in Bhopal on the night of December 2, 1984.
Officials say nearly 15,000 people have died since from cancer and other diseases.
Activists put the toll at 33,000 and say toxins from thousands of tonnes of chemicals lying in and around the site have seeped into the ground water.
Union Carbide in 1984 accepted moral responsibility for the tragedy and established a 100 million dollars charitable trust fund to build a hospital for victims. Later Union Carbide was taken over by Dow Chemicals.
The company also paid 470 million dollars to the Indian government in 1989 in a settlement reached after a protracted legal battle. The victims, on an average, received 25,000 rupees in case of illness and 100,000 rupees or so in case of a death in the family.
Michigan-based Dow Chemical says it is not responsible for the clean up as it never owned or operated the plant. The Madhya Pradesh state government now owns the abandoned plant.