New Delhi: The Home Ministry, under P V
Narasimha Rao, had assured "safe passage" to Union Carbide
Chief Warren Anderson before he came to India in the aftermath
of the deadly 1984 Bhopal gas leakage, the then Foreign
Secretary M K Rasgotra said here today.
He said the then Prime Minister late Rajiv Gandhi was
subsequently told about granting Anderson a safe passage, to
which he did not object and had concurred.
"Rajiv Gandhi was not in Delhi and I felt that really
the Home Ministry was concerned and they will do the needful,
which they did," Rasgotra said when asked why he did not
consult the late Prime Minister, who was holding the Foreign
Ministry portfolio too.
"Obviously, he (Rajiv) concurred with that decision but
that was after the event," he said.
Anderson had requested a "safe passage" through the US
Embassy, Rasgotra told a TV channel.
"He (Gordon Streeb, the then deputy chief of the US
mission here) said Anderson wanted to come here. There was a
tragic situation and he wanted to see things himself, wanted
to offer his condolences but he would come only if granted
safe passage," Rasgotra said.
"I said, I cannot assure of safe passage. I would have to
consult concerned authorities and I will get back to you...I
got in touch with the Home Ministry and I got in touch with
the Cabinet Secretary. I told them what Streeb had asked for
and I waited for the instructions," the former diplomat said.
Rasgotra also maintained that he got the instructions the
Terming the request for safe passage by Anderson as
"understandable", Rasgotra also described his arrest as
"It was quite understandable request. This man wanted to
come, express his condolences and sorrow. I thought it was
quite understandable and if he wanted to come, we should let
him come...He was given safe passage and the arrest was wrong.
And the authorities, I think, realised that was a bad thing to
do and they released him," he said.
Asked if then chief minister of Madhya Pradesh Arjun
Singh was unaware of the safe passage which resulted in
Anderson`s brief arrest in Bhopal, Rasgotra said "Did Arjun
Singh really arrest him or the administrative authorities or
police arrested. I cannot say."