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Pranab says Arjun had to let Anderson out
Published on 14 Jun. 2010 12:20 AM IST
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Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee Sunday said that then Madhya Pradesh chief minister Arjun Singh had decided to send Union Carbide Corporation CEO Warren Anderson out of Bhopal in view of the deteriorating law and order situation after the gas tragedy in 1984.
Mukherjee, speaking to reporters here, quoted Arjun Singh’s statement on Dec 8, 1984, five days after the gas leak at the Union Carbide India Ltd’s pesticides unit in Bhopal that killed an estimated 25,000 people over the years.
“In his statement, Arjun Singh had clearly said there was deterioration of law and order... Therefore it was thought right to send him out of Bhopal. Arjun Singh made the statement Dec 8, 1984 as chief minister,” said Mukherjee, the number two in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
On the question of extraditing Anderson, he said: “The question of extradition has come up. We will explore the possibility of extradition.”
He refused to comment on the verdict delivered by the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s Court in Bhopal June 7, but said the government will go to a “higher judiciary”.
Singh has not broken his silence on issues related to the gas tragedy since the court June 7 convicted seven accused in the gas leak case. However, they were sentenced to a mere two years in jail and were immediately freed on bail. Anderson, a proclaimed offender in India in the 1984 chemical disaster, is currently in the US.
The Congress has been facing uncomfortable questions on who had ordered Anderson’s extradition hours after his arrest in the aftermath of the tragedy, with some suggesting that he was allowed to go out of the country following a directive from the central government.
On the intervening night of Dec 2-3 1984, poisonous methyl-iso-cyanate gas leaked from the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, killing thousands immediately and many more over the years and maiming numerous others.
Our Bhopal prosecution was weak: CBI
JABALPUR (MADHYA PRADESH), JUN 13 (IANS): Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Director Ashwini Kumar Sunday said the agency needs to strengthen its prosecution to match the legal resources employed by the accused in cases like the Bhopal gas disaster.
“Our investigations are good but there is weakness in prosecution and trial. We will pay more attention to it,” Kumar told reporters in this Madhya Pradesh city.
He said that while the CBI had one public prosecutor to plead its case, “there was a team of five-six (lawyers)” for the accused in cases such as the 1984 Bhopal gas leak, the world’s worst industrial disaster that killed thousands of people.
The CBI director stressed that the agency will work towards strengthening its prosecution team.
Kumar said the trial in a case was not in the hands of the agency and that it was a court process.
He said that the focus should be on taking steps for the future rather than only conducting a post-mortem of an incident that took place 25 years ago. He said that Bhopal-like incidents should not happen again but if an accident does occur people should get speedy relief.
Kumar said the chargesheet in the Bhopal gas case was based on the Supreme Court directions.
“The maximum sentence was given (according to chargesheet),” he said.
A Bhopal trial court June 7 held seven Union Carbide officials guilty of criminal negligence in the 1984 gas leak and sentenced them to two years’ imprisonment. They were immediately granted bail.
The court also imposed a fine of Rs.100,000 on the seven convicted, including Keshub Mahindra, who then headed Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL).
The accused had moved Supreme Court in 1996 against a CBI chargesheet in a Bhopal court to try them on charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, which comes with a 10-year jail term.
A Supreme Court bench of justices A.M. Ahmadi and S.B. Majumdar had ruled that evidence provided by the CBI against the accused was sufficient only to try them under Section 304-A of the Indian Penal Code (death due to negligence).
On the intervening night of Dec 2-3 1984, poisonous methyl-iso-cyanate gas leaked from the Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, killing thousands immediately and many more over the years and maiming numerous others.

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