The White House has declined to intervene in an online petition, signed by more than 1.27 lakh people, most of them from Bhopal, asking the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) to serve a legal notice to Dow Chemicals in connection with the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy.
Arguing that it wants to “avoid the appearance of improper influence”, the White House declined to comment on the “specific request made in the petition” — a response that has angered survivors who were hopeful of a positive outcome, having successfully petitioned the US government two months ago.
Members of four organisations burnt an effigy of US president Barack Obama on Saturday and said they would protest outside US consulates in India. Activists said there was a documentary evidence of the US government having used undue influence to set up the plant in Bhopal and to protect its then chairman Warren Anderson from criminal proceedings.
The petition, titled ‘Uphold international law! Stop shielding Dow Chemical from accountability for corporate crimes in Bhopal, India’, was created on May 14 on the White House website.
The Obama administration has a ‘We the People’ platform to allow people to raise important issues, and promises to give an official response if the petition gets one lakh or more signatures.
The petition uploaded on the White House website argued that the DoJ did not summon Dow Chemical to explain the whereabouts of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC), the main accused in the gas tragedy trial pending in Indian courts.
The UCC never showed up for trial and the four notices served by Indian courts through DoJ were never served on the