An effigy of Union Home Minister P Chidambaram was set on fire by victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy on Saturday to protest the decision by the Group of Ministers of not revising the figures of deaths and the injured in the curative petition pending before the Supreme Court.
The GoM decision would mean the victims would not be able to claim additional compensation, which they have been clamouring for.
Leaders of organisations representing the victims alleged that Chidambaram has been close to Union Carbide's owner Dow Chemical and called for his removal from the post of chairman of the GoM, a joint release issued by them said.
The GoM's decision taken at the behest of Chidambaram is against data from scientific studies done by the government's own apex research agency Indian Council of Medical Research, Rashida Bee, president of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh said.
Presenting a copy of a letter written by Chidambaram to the PMO in 2006, Nawab Khan of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha said, "Chidambaram had written to the prime minister to let Dow Chemical walk away from its liabilities in Bhopal. The attempt to downplay the damage caused by the American company shows how close he continues to be to Dow Chemical".
The GoM on Bhopal gas tragedy was originally formed to deal with the issue of clean-up of the Union Carbide site. But later, its mandate was expanded to include several issues including granting of additional compensation to the victims.
"Chidambaram was the lawyer for Enron, the most corrupt American corporation and a board member of Vedanta, the company responsible for ecological devastation. He should not have been included in the GoM on Bhopal, let alone be its chairman," said Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action.
The organisations also released a copy of a letter addressed to the Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan by four religious leaders, seeking withdrawal of criminal cases filed against 2,000 odd gas victims in connection with incident of violence on the 27th anniversary of the disaster last year, till an independent enquiry is conducted in the matter.