New Delhi, June 28 : Children from Bhopal fighting for the rights of victims of Bhopal gas leak, one of India's worst industrial disasters, held a demonstration here on Saturday carrying hearts made of paper.
Appealing to the Prime Minister to "have a heart" and do justice to them, the children expressed disappointment over what they called his apathetic attitude on the issue.
As part of the "Have a Heart" campaign launched internationally last week, supporters of the Bhopal victims the world over are educating children about the Prime Minister's prolonged silence over the Bhopal demands despite a 38-day march, 90 day dharna and an indefinite fast by nine people from Bhopal.
A team of eight children from Bhopal have done the rounds of Delhi, visiting youth workshops, residential welfare associations and slums, telling children the story of Bhopal and the Prime Minister's refusal to address their demands.
"Despite a 38-day march, 90 day dharna and an indefinite fast by nine people from Bhopal for the past nineteen days, the Prime minister continues to be quiet on the matter. We have been fighting for the past 23 years. But our Prime Minister has not responded," said Sarita Malviya a protester.
More than 3,500 people died in the days and weeks after toxic fumes spewed out of a pesticide plant in Bhopal on the night of December 2, 1984.
Officials say nearly 15,000 people have died from cancer and other diseases since then.
Activists have put the toll at 33,000 and claim that toxins from thousands of tonnes of chemicals lying in and around the site have seeped into 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 the victims. Later Union Carbide was taken over by Dow Chemicals.
The company also paid 470 million dollars to the government in 1989 in a settlement reached after a protracted legal battle. The victims were paid 25,000 rupees in case of illness and 100,000 rupees or so to the next of kin of those killed.
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.