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Rajiv Gandhi didn't intervene to help Anderson, says Arjun Singh

By Abdul Nisar

New Delhi, Aug.11 (ANI): Senior Congress leader Arjun Singh on Wednesday said that the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi did not intervene to help Warren Anderson, the then CEO of Union Carbide India Limited in any way in the Bhopal Gas leak incident.

Arjun Singh was the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh when the deadly gas tragedy occurred at the night of December 2-3 in 1984 at the Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) pesticide plant in Bhopal city of Madhya Pradesh.

Clarifying about Rajiv Gandhi's role in the incident, Singh said, "Rajiv Gandhi "did not utter a single word in the next two days either in support of Mr Anderson or try to mitigate his problem."

Instead, Singh suggested that the Home Ministry in Delhi may have tried to rescue Anderson.

"The Chief Secretary informed me that there have been persistent calls for granting bail to Mr Anderson from Home Ministry officials in Delhi," Singh said.

Congress leader Narasimha Rao was the country's Home Minister in 1984.

Narrating members of the Lok Sabha about what happened after the Bhopal Gas leak tragedy, Singh said that he was surprised by Warren Anderson's "arrogance" when Anderson landed at the Bhopal airport hours after his company-Union Carbide-caused a gas leak which led to thousands being killed.

"Someone told me that Warren Anderson was coming to Bhopal. I was amazed at the audacity of a person who was aware of what his factory was manufacturing... but he was coming to Bhopal ... for what ? At that very moment, I made up my mind that as soon as he lands he should be arrested. I did not share my decision with anybody .. I did call in the officers concerned and briefed them to arrest Anderson on his arriving," Arjun Singh said.

"As soon as he stepped down from the plane, the police SP escorted him in a car and told him that he was under custody and they are taking him to his own rest house for detention. He was so surprised when he was told this ... he kept asking ... Why is the CM not here to receive me ... Imagine the arrogance of the man," Singh told the Lok Sabha.

"It became my responsibility to ensure that no physical harm came to him. I knew that people would lynch him from the nearest lamppost. Today, 26 years later, I can tell you ... it breaks my heart," said Singh, justifying the decision to let Anderson leave Bhopal even as hundreds of people in the city's hospitals were gasping for breath," he further stated.

Anderson was arrested when he arrived in Bhopal but was released within hours and flown to Delhi on the Chief Minister's plane.

The CEO of Union Carbide then flew to America and has never returned, defying multiple summons from Indian courts.

"I take full responsibility for Anderson's arrest," said Singh in arliament today, speaking publicly on the issue for the first ime since a Bhopal court earlier this year pronounced a verdict hat incensed the country because of the nano-punishment it elivered. (ANI)

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