By Duncan Mackay

Sebastian Coe_effigy_in_BhopalDecember 3 - Protests against Dow Chemical's sponsorship of the Olympics have continued with thousands of demonstrations again taking to the streets a day after effigies of Sebastian Coe, the chairman of London 2012, and Vijay Kumar Malhotra, head of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), were burnt in the streets.

The protests have coincided with the 27th anniversary of the disaster in Bhopal where a Union Carbide pesticide plant leaked lethal gas that killed an estimated 15,000 people and maimed tens of thousands more.

Protestors gathered at two sites in the central city of Bhopal to demand India pull out from the Games.

Nearly 200 people carrying banners saying "Down with London Olympics" and "We want justice," marched to the now-abandoned plant.

Among the demonstrators were Navin Shah, the London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow.

"It is disgusting that Dow Chemicals is sponsoring the London Olympics," said Shah, who is originally from Mumbai.

"To put pressure, we have raised the issue in the London Assembly and I am here to protest along with survivors.

"The Indian Government should raise the issue with the [London] Olympics Organising Committee.

"If the Government does not raise the issue then Indian leaders should put pressure on the Government."

Dow, who became a worldwide Olympic sponsor earlier this year, bought Union Carbide in 2001 and has always maintained that legal claims regarding the gas leak were resolved when Union Carbide paid $470 million (£310 million/€351 million) as compensation for those killed or injured.

The Indian Government is seeking an additional $1.1 billion (£707 million/€822 million) for the victims from Union Carbide, and activists accuse Dow of not cleaning up contamination in Bhopal.

Shivraj Singh Chauhan, the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh state where Bhopal is located, last month wrote a letter to India's Sports Minister Ajay Maken asking that the country boycott the London Olympics.

But Malhotra, the acting President of the IOA, has promised that India will not boycott the Games. 

Dow Chemical_protests_in_Bhopal_December_2_2011
"This protest is against both the Olympics and Government indifference towards gas victims," activist Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action said.

Things turned violent when placard-waving protestors attempted to block trains travelling to and from the Bhopal railway station and police baton-charged the crowd, which responded by pelting stones at the officers.

"We are resorting to peaceful agitation but the police used force against us in a bid to silence us," Dhingra said.

Senior district official Nikunj Srivastava said that police were acting under a law prohibiting unlawful assembly.

Dhingra said later in a statement that many Bhopal disaster survivors who took part in the protest were injured and one was in "critical condition".

She claimed that at least eight women survivors had been arrested, although this was unconfirmed.

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