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BJP slams `attempts` to influence Bhopal probe

BJP on Tuesday slammed the then Congress government after claims by a former CBI officer that it had "pressurised" the probe agency not to press for extradition of Bhopal gas tragedy accused Warren Anderson.



New Delhi: BJP on Tuesday slammed the then
Congress government after claims by a former CBI officer that
it had "pressurised" the probe agency not to press for
extradition of Bhopal gas tragedy accused Warren Anderson.

"The attempts by the then Union Government led by P V
Narsimha Rao asking the CBI not to press for extradition of
Anderson is very unfortunate and deeply condemnable," BJP
spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters here.

He also criticised the 1996 Supreme Court verdict that
"whittled down" charges against the accused.

In the chargesheet filed in the Bhopal gas tragedy case,
the CBI pressed charges under Section 304 (ii) which attracts
maximum punishment of 10 years.

However, when the accused filed a special leave petition
in the Supreme Court, the Bench ruled in their favour in 1996
directing the probe agency to file charges under section 304
(A) which attracts a maximum punishment of two years.

"The said judgement of the Supreme Court is unfortunate
and regrettable," Prasad said asking the government to make
efforts -- legislative or otherwise -- to ensure that justice
is done to the victims of the Bhopal gas tragedy.

He said that the BJP will always support any effort of
the government to do justice to the victims.

Prasad also reiterated the BJP demand to have a relook
into the controversial Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill
in the context of the Bhopal gas tragedy verdict.

The bill, which witnessed stiff opposition at the time of
introduction in the Lok Sabha, is currently being examined by
the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Science and Technology
and Environment headed by Congress leader T Subirami Reddy.

B R Lall, former Joint Director of the agency and
incharge of the probe said he was forced by the Ministry of
External Affairs officials not to press for extradition of
Anderson, the then CEO of Union Carbide Corporation.

"CBI investigation was influenced and commanded by some
officials as a result the justice in the Bhopal Gas leak case
got delayed, hence denied," said Lall, the CBI officer in
charge of the investigation from April 1994 to July 1995.

The charges by Lall came after a court in Bhopal
yesterday convicted former Union Carbide India Chairman Keshub
Mahindra and six others, nearly 26 years after the world`s
worst industrial disaster left more than 15,000 dead in the
tragedy in the intervening night of December 2 and 3 in 1984.

"I was told by the Ministry of External Affairs officials
not to follow the extradition of Warren Anderson which
affected the CBI probe," said Lall, who is now retired.

Law Minister Veerappa Moily has strongly reacted to
Lall`s claim, saying, "It is an irresponsible statement. This
is not done at all. After retirement, people become martyrs by
making such statements."

PTI

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