Govt ‘facilitated’ Warren Anderson’s escape!
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Last Updated: Thursday, June 10, 2010, 09:53
  
Bhopal/Hyderabad: More skeletons tumbled out on Wednesday in the Bhopal gas tragedy case of how former Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson got bail immediately after his arrest, but the then CBI chief rejected claims that the agency was asked not to pursue his extradition.

The role of Arjun Singh, who was Madhya Pradesh chief minister when the disaster struck, has also come under the scanner with reports that a state plane was provided to fly Anderson from Bhopal to Delhi on December 7, 1984, three days after the gas leak. Singh was not available for comments.

With the verdict in the case coming under all round attack, the Central government today reconstituted a Group of Ministers (GoM) to go into a range of issues including the relief and rehabilitation of victims and their families.

The Congress party, whose governments at the Centre and in Madhya Pradesh have come under attack at the time of gas leak and later, sought to fob off criticism and demanded that government should take quick steps for Anderson's extradition.

On top of a former CBI official's charge on Anderson's extradition, the then District Magistrate of Bhopal came out with his version of how he was asked to ensure bail for the Carbide official hours after his arrest.

"They (Anderson and others) came to Bhopal from Bombay by service flight. They were taken into police custody at the airport and taken to the Union Carbide guest house where they were told that they were under arrest and they were lodged in three separate rooms and the formality of arrest was completed," former DM Moti Singh told reporters in Bhopal.

Then, he said, around 2.00 pm (December 7, 1984), the Chief Secretary called the SP and the DM to his office and told them to release Anderson and put him in the same plane waiting in the airport to go to Delhi.

"Accordingly, we went to the place where he was lodged. We observed the formalities of granting him bail. A Carbide employee stood surety and thereafter he was released on bail, taken to the airport and put on a State plane to New Delhi," Singh said.

In Hyderabad, former CBI director K Vijayarama Rao today rejected claims of a former joint director B R Lall the agency was asked not to pursue Anderson's extradition from the US.

"The Government of India as well as the CBI did everything they could to extradite Anderson from the US. But, the US refused to allow it," Rao told reporters.

"Their (USA) claim was that the Union Carbide factory was only a holding and that this man (Anderson) cannot be held responsible as he is not directly involved in the running of the factory. We can, however, hold him morally responsible (for the Bhopal gas tragedy)," the former CBI director said.

Lall, former joint director who was in-charge of the probe, had yesterday said that he was asked by the Ministry of External Affairs officials not to follow extradition of Anderson when the gas leak took place 26 years ago.

Rao recalled that there was a lot of correspondence between the CBI and the MEA and also between the MEA and the US government.

"In the course of such correspondence, there may have been a letter from the MEA saying that the US is not allowing the extradition of Anderson. But I can say that at no point was there any pressure on the CBI from the MEA to drop the case," Rao asserted.

When questioned about the claim made by Lall, Rao said, "Asking him (Lall) is not the question but asking the CBI is the issue".

Neither the Government of India, the CBI nor the MEA had ever given up on the extradition of Anderson, Rao said adding, "We have always pursued it. But even after repeated attempts we were hitting a wall in the case".

Adding another twist, the then Supreme Court chief justice A H Ahmadi who had delivered the Bhopal gas tragedy case verdict in 1996, today said he could not recollect whether a review petition was filed. He had yesterday stated in a television interview that no review petition was filed.

In Delhi, the Centre announced the reconstitution of a GoM under Home Minister P Chidambaram to examine all issues relating to Bhopal gas leakage, including remedial measures and make appropriate recommendations on the relief and rehabilitation of the victims and their families.

Other members of GoM will be Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, Law Minister M Veerappa Moily, Urban Development Minister S Jaipal Reddy, Transport Minister Kamal Nath, Chemicals Minister M K Alagiri, Tourism Minister Kumari Selja, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh and MoS in PMO Prithviraj Chavan.

The Group, which was earlier headed by former minister Arjun Singh, will have a Madhya Pradesh minister in charge of rehabilitation will be a permanent invitee.

PTI


First Published: Thursday, June 10, 2010, 09:53


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