Govt ‘facilitated’ Warren Anderson’s escape!

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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