Pranab admits to Arjun Singh's role in letting off Anderson
Kolkata/New Delhi: Giving a new spin on why
Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson was allowed to leave the
country after the Bhopal gas tragedy, Pranab Mukherjee Sunday said Arjun Singh had taken the decision keeping in view the
prevailing law and order situation.
Though Mukherjee, like many Congress leaders, squarely
put the onus of the decision on Singh, the then Madhya Pradesh
chief minister, he said this was "thought necessary" as
tempers were running high.
The BJP and the Left parties mounted pressure demanding
action against those who allowed Anderson to flee and justice
for the victims of the tragedy.
In Kolkata, Mukherjee told reporters, "The statement made
by Singh as Madhya Pradesh chief minister five days after the
Bhopal disaster had been published in a newspaper."
"It is very clear from the statement of Arjun Singh,
which was published in The Times of India on December 8, 1984,
that the law and order situation in Bhopal would have
deteriorated and people's frenzy and temper were running high.
Therefore, it was thought necessary to send him (Anderson) out
of Bhopal," he said.
He was asked if the Congress was trying to shield Singh
on the issue of exit of Anderson from the country.
On whether the government was considering Anderson's
extradition to India, Mukherjee said the government would look
into the legal avenues available for the possible extradition.
"Though we cannot comment on the court judgement, we
have to go to a higher judiciary where there is an appellate
provision. We will appeal there," he said.
Mukherjee's comments came after several Congress leaders
had emphatically dismissed suggestions that Singh had acted at
the behest of Rajiv Gandhi and mounted pressure on the senior
Congress leader to break his silence on the issue.
Former Union minister Arun Nehru, a close aide of
Rajiv Gandhi, took a similar line saying Singh had taken the
decision based on the ground situation then.
"Trying to judge events in 2010 by the ground realities
existing in 1984 can never be right," Nehru, who was Congress
general secretary in 1984 but later parted ways with Gandhi
and has no association with the party now, said in Delhi.
In Bangalore, Union minister Salman Khurshid said
emotions should not be allowed to be mixed with law and
stressed the need for enacting a special legislation to deal
with such disasters.
In Patna, BJP sought action against those who allowed
the "guilty to flee".
"The life of an Indian is not cheap in comparison to any
American or anybody else. The gross injustice which the
victims of Union Carbide gas tragedy in Bhopal have suffered
must make us all alive to this critical aspect. The BJP
demands that all requisite steps must be taken for expeditious
justice to the victims of Bhopal tragedy," the party said.
In Bhopal, Left parties announced that they will launch
a fortnight-long protest in the state demanding justice for
the victims of the gas tragedy.
The Left parties demanded retrial of the accused under
stringent sections of the IPC, extradition of Anderson from
the US and his prosecution.