A victim of Bhopal gas tragedy attends a demonstration in Bhopal
A victim of Bhopal gas tragedy attends a demonstration outside a court in the central Indian city of Bhopal June 7, 2010.REUTERS

Survivors of the Union Carbide disaster or Bhopal gas tragedy protested outside Indian Olympic Association (IOA) acting-chairman V. K. Malhotra's residence in Delhi on Tuesday demanding the IOA to boycott the London Olympics 2012.

The protesters shouted slogans and sang Mahatma Gandhi's favorite prayer to Lord Rama. They demanded the IOA boycotts the London Olympic over Dow Chemical sponsoring the upcoming games.

Shehazadee Bee, a survivor of the disaster, alleged that the IOA was betraying the Bhopal victims in exchange of funds from Dow Chemical, the owner of Union Carbide.

"The International Olympics Committee has received hundreds of millions of dollars from Dow Chemical as a sponsor of the Olympic Games till 2020. A part of this money has been transferred to IOA or will soon be. This is the reason why the IOA has chosen to make only ineffective gestures against Dow Chemical's sponsorship of the London Games," IBNS quoted her as saying.

Balkrishna Namdeo, President of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha, said that Malhotra should have taken inspiration from Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, who had called to boycott the London Olympics.

Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action said that Dow Chemical is evading its civil, criminal and environmental liability in Bhopal ever since it took over Union Carbide in 2001.

"Dow Chemical is sponsoring the Olympic game to whitewash its Bhopal liability and Mr. Malhotra is helping the American company in its attempt to escape its legal liabilities," she said.

Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha President Nawab Khan also demanded that the IOA tell International Olympic Committee (IOC) that it will accept money from Dow Chemical.

"It is a matter of national shame that the IOA and Mr. Malhotra have succumbed to the temptation of American dollars and ignored the fact that these dollars are coming from a company responsible for death and poisoning of thousands of Indian citizens," he said.

Malhotra met the protestors and assured them that he would write to IOC asking it not to send any money to IOA sponsored by Dow Chemical.

As many as 25,000 people from Bhopal, India, died in the aftermath of a 1984 gas leak at a pesticide factory, the Indian subsidiary of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC). Dow Chemical bought Union Carbide in 2001 and it refused India's demand to pay an additional $1.7 billion to help the victims.

Now, the tragedy has resurfaced with Dow sponsoring this year's Olympics. Activists have been demanding IOC to revoke Dow's sponsorship. Meredith Alexander, who is one of 12 commissioners of the Commission for a Sustainable London 2012 watchdog, had resigned after IOC refused to drop Dow as the sponsor of the Olympics.

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