BHOPAL, India (AP) _ Students today burned an effigy of the former chairman of Union Carbide Corp. and shops closed in a general strike marking the third anniversary of a gas leak that killed more than 2,800 people here.

Services for the victims killed in the pesticide plant gas leak were held at Hindu and Sikh temples, Moslem mosques and Christian churches. The tragedy in this central Indian city was the world's worst industrial accident.

Schools and government offices were closed under government order. Most shops and businesses did not open in response to a call for a general strike by opposition parties.

Students burned an effigy of Warren Anderson, former chairman of the U.S.-based multinational Union Carbide Corp. The gas leaked from a plant run by the company's subsidiary, Union Carbide of India Ltd.

The deserted plant was freshly decorated with the slogan ''No Settlement'' to protest an out-of-court settlement being discussed by Union Carbide and the government of India.

The government has sued Union Carbide of Danbury, Conn., for $3 billion, claiming the accident resulted from negligence. Carbide says it was caused by sabotage by a disgruntled employee.

Activists espousing the victims' cause demand that as a matter of principle India should pursue the court case to prove Union Carbide's liability.

India also has filed criminal charges of homicide against the company, its subsidiary and nine Carbide officials, including Anderson.

The anniversary memorial began Wednesday night with a march to the plant. Demonstrators shouted ''Down with Union Carbide 3/8'' and ''Multinationals quit India 3/8''

Two dissident members expelled from the Congress Party of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi arrived to address a public meeting organized by opposition parties.

The two, V.C. Shukla and Mohammed Sayed, told reporters the government should pursue the court case instead of trying to settle out of court with Carbide.

Shukla said the court case was not moving forward quickly enough because of ''bureaucratic slackness and lack of will in government circles.''

One reason that some Indian officials have argued for an out-of-court settlement is that the notorious slowness of the Indian courts could mean it could take up to 10 years to settle the suit.