Indian rapper returns to target US chemical giant in bid for Bhopal damages

A south Indian rapper is targeting Dow Chemical with rhymes — demanding the U.S. company pay more in victims’ compensation and environmental damages stemming from a horrific chemical gas leak that killed thousands of people and sickened countless others. Sofia Ashraf debuted “Dow vs. Bhopal: a Toxic Rap Battle” last month, calling the story of what happened in the central Indian city of Bhopal “a critical message to get out there”. The 1984 tragedy, considered the world’s worst industrial accident, was caused by 40 tons of deadly methyl isocyanate gas leaking from a pesticide plant run by Union Carbide Corp. later purchased by Dow Chemical.

This ain’t road kill, death’s still taking its toll. There’s water, water everywhere / corroding our copperware / It’s so polluted, quit deluding.

Sofia Ashraf

“Speak to young people, and they know about Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they know about the Holocaust,” the 29-year-old songstress said. “But very few of them will know about the Bhopal gas leak tragedy.” The leak killed more than 15,000 and sickened at least a half-million more. Activists say thousands of children have since been born with brain damage, missing palates and twisted limbs. Union Carbide paid $470 million in a 1989 deal reached with the Indian government, which Dow has said takes care of its liability. But activists say the sum was far too low and ignored the need to clean up the environment.