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Page last updated at 16:28 GMT, Monday, 7 June 2010 17:28 UK

Bhopal voices: 'Justice denied'

A court in the Indian city of Bhopal has sentenced eight people to two years each in jail over a gas plant leak that killed thousands of people in 1984.

The convictions are the first since the disaster at the Union Carbide plant - the world's worst industrial accident.

Bhopal residents describe the impact of the disaster and give their reaction to the sentencing.

Ashutosh Jhureley, currently working in the UK
Ashutosh Jhureley

Justice delayed is justice denied. Two years prison sentence after 25 years is too little too late.

People in Bhopal have been waiting for justice for too long, but they are also waiting for concrete action to help those still suffering.

We still don't have proper medical facilities and those affected have to go to private hospitals and pay for their treatment.

The compensation still hasn't reached the right people and there are many who are desperately in need. Most of the people who registered for compensation were adults - those under 18 were not allowed to register.

My father is suffering constant pain below his ear. He's been seen by many doctors but they can't help him. I know many people with skin diseases and a few of my friends have damaged eyesight.


The next day [after the gas leak] we went back to our home and the images I saw haunt me to this day

I was seven years old when it happened and it is a miracle that me and my family survived. We used to live very close to the Union Carbide plant - we used to play cricket on the grounds.

We woke up shortly after we went to bed and everything was covered in smoke. We started running, but in the wrong direction, as the wind carrying the smoke was catching up with us.

We were saved by a fire engine. All four of us had to cling on the side of it - there were already 50 people inside and there was no room for us.

The next day we went back to our home and the images I saw haunt me to this day. There were dead bodies everywhere, both human and animal.

People were carrying the dead bodies of their relatives on rickshaws, on rucksacks, dragging them along. There were three rows of dead bodies in front of the mosque.

Our government should be putting pressure, just like what Obama is doing on the oil spill. That's their role - to put pressure, not just for compensation, but for action that will see victims looked after.

Ramaswamy Venkatachalam, engineer
Ramaswamy Venkatachalam

This is a typical delayed Indian justice. We are very upset. A two-year sentence is no justice when so many people died. Letting off Warren Anderson angers us more than the 25-year delay.

Actually, we are not surprised about the length of the sentence, but letting him off the hook was a shock.

There's lots to be angry about - the Indian government hasn't distributed all the compensation. The money is still in the Bank of India and that is causing more pain to us.

I wasn't born and brought up in Bhopal and I didn't live through the disaster, but I see the people who are still suffering. Many people are still giving birth to deformed babies.

We have formed a small group in our company to help these people. We collect food, clothes and basic medication. Medication was originally provided by the government, but they've stopped doing that. There are no medical facilities for these people and we haven't got a clue why.

People are angry but they are resigned to the situation.

It's too late for those who've lost their lives. But a lesson must be learnt for the future - there should be no limits to corporate liability and no delays in bringing justice.

Gaurav Bhargava, software engineer
Gaurav Bhargava

So many people lost their lives, yet the main accused is not punished. And those who are punished, are only getting two years. Two years are not enough.

I was only two years old when this tragedy happened. I don't remember anything but I can still see the impact of the worst industrial disaster of all time.

Nothing has changed. People are still affected because of the contaminated water supply and nobody is doing anything about it.

Nothing can be changed for those who lost their lives, but at least something should be done to clean up the site and support the affected people.

The contamination is still in the soil and in the water. It's spreading and it's continuing to affect people.

There are lessons to be learnt. Safety standards should never be ignored, there should be hospitals equipped to deal with anything. We should be better prepared.

Romi Mathur, nurse
Romi Mathur

This injustice comes much to the dismay of the people here. Two years is a very short sentence, especially that it comes after 25 years.

The whole case was poorly executed. It should have been handled quicker and with compassion for those who died, survived and bore the brunt of that tragedy.

Many of these people are still living with the pain of yesterday. Many of the children born after that tragedy are infertile and to be infertile in Indian society is like to be doomed.

You see children with cleft lip deformity, people with damaged eyesight, chest and pulmonary weakness and so on. You see them everywhere.

They do not get ample medical treatment, although the units and hospitals have been earmarked for them.

Nothing has been done for these people and they need constant medication and care. They should get compensation, there has to be some kind of social responsibility.

There'll be lots of anger and there'll be major protests, I am sure of it.

People are very angry. I avoided going out today, it's too dangerous.



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