Page last updated at 11:42 GMT, Tuesday, 8 June 2010 12:42 UK

Indian papers deplore 'shameful' Bhopal sentences

Demonstrators shout and wave placards outside a courthouse in Bhopal, India
Many Bhopal protesters said the verdicts were 'too little, too late'

The Indian press has expressed outrage at the sentences handed down to Union Carbide employees found guilty of negligence over the gas leak that killed thousands of people in Bhopal in 1984.

One paper described the two-year sentences given to eight former Union Carbide executives as "absurdly light punishment" and "a travesty of justice". Several accused successive Indian governments of kowtowing to US business interests in their failure to bring the former Union Carbide head, Warren Anderson, to justice.

Many papers were also indignant at the levels of compensation awarded to victims of the disaster and their families.

Bangalore-based Deccan Herald

It is a shameful indictment of our lethargic judiciary… This verdict is a travesty of justice… Clearly the charge does not reflect the enormity of the crime committed…. it is just a rap on the knuckles. As for Anderson, he has escaped even this absurdly light punishment. If justice has eluded the victims, this is because the governments of the US and India have colluded to protect the guilty, including Anderson… Successive governments have been eager to please US business corporations in order to attract more investment rather than pursue justice.

New Delhi-based The Asian Age

The scale of human suffering in the wake of the tragedy… appears quite like that of a chemical weapons strike by a terrorist outfit… New Delhi should honour the dead and the suffering even at this late stage and press Washington to use all available laws to send Mr Anderson to face trial in India.

Blog by Shobhan Saxena in Mumbai-based The Times of India

Just two years in jail for the men who committed the worst crime against the people of this country. And this mockery of justice after such a long wait. Twenty six years after 40 tonnes of lethal gas seeped into the lungs of Bhopal, some 17,000 men and women are still waiting for the so-called compensation… In all these years, the poor victims have done everything they could to get justice and compensation… Today, they were denied justice. Today, they were told that they should be happy with the peanuts thrown at them by Union Carbide. Today, India proved once again that it doesn't care for its poor… Today, India proved that it doesn't really care for its people, particularly if they have been slaughtered by powerful people from the most powerful nation in the world. Instead of taking on America and fighting for justice for its poor, India is more than happy to sell its dead cheap.

New Delhi-based Hindustan Times

Two years in jail and bail of 25,000 rupees for the eight accused (one now deceased) in the Bhopal gas case will do nothing to lessen the poisonous atmosphere that has clouded the controversial tragedy for 25 long years…. [It] should have been an open-and-shut case of criminal and corporate liability. Yet, a quarter of a century down the line, all the victims have managed to get is 12,410 rupees each for the dead and for the survivors of a lifetime of disability and pain both for themselves and their progeny.

Chandigarh-based The Tribune

The nation is bound to be disappointed over Monday's ruling of a Bhopal court in the Union Carbide gas tragedy case which concerned the world's worst industrial disaster to date… The victims of the gas tragedy and the kith and kin of the deceased may have decided to knock on the doors of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. But they have a long battle ahead. Most of them have got only a measly compensation so far. While there is no escape from fighting for justice because the killer gas has hit the survivors in their genes, it may take many more years for the judiciary to pronounce the last word in the case.

New Delhi-based The Indian Express

The people of Bhopal continue to suffer from the 1984 leak and its botched aftermath - if not actually physiologically, then in terms of the dark shadows that have undeservedly become attached to their city's reputation. The accident, after all, could have happened anywhere in this country. Yet it's Bhopal that is instantly associated with the idea "industrial accident".

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