Bhopal gas tragedy survivor, activist Irfan dies

Friday, February 18, 2011

BHOPAL - Syed M. Irfan (62), a frontline activist for justice in the case against Union Carbide and himself a survivor of the Bhopal gas disaster, died Friday afternoon at his home after long illness.

Despite being severely exposed to the toxic gas in the 1984 industrial disaster, Irfan, who was president of Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, led several demonstrations for justice to fellow survivors.

He leaves behind his wife and two sons.

“We, his fellow campaigners mourn Irfan Bhai’s death and resolve to continue with the struggle with which he was associated for the larger part of his life”, said Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group for Information and Action (BGIA), a social organisation.

The Union Carbide disaster, in which poisonous methyl isocyanate gas leaked from the plant on the night of Dec 2-3, 1984, killed 3,000 people instantly and 25,000 over the years. It also affected 100,000 people that night and estimates are that more than 500,000 continue to suffer from ill effects of the gas till date.

In 2006, despite frail health Irfan marched from Bhopal to Delhi seeking medical care and rehabilitation for the people poisoned in the Union Carbide gas disaster.

Following the take-over of Union Carbide by Dow Chemicals in 2001, he devoted himself to mobilising public opinion on the issue of toxic contamination in and around the factory.

Irfan travelled to several places within India, including Chennai, New Delhi, Mumbai, Plachimada in Kerala, Raipur, and other places to raise awareness on the Bhopal tragedy and to express solidarity with other people’s movements in the country.

He was part of the joint front of four organisations - Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Purush Sangharsh Morcha, Bhopal Gas Peedit Nirashrit Pension Bhogi Sangharsh Morcha, Children Against Dow Carbide, Bhopal Group for Information and Action (BGIA) - since 2004 and was a member of International Coalition for Justice in Bhopal.

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