Congress spins web of deceit, manufactures a dozen lies!
The Congress is at sea while responding to why Warren Anderson was given safe passage and allowed to flee India instead of being incarcerated and prosecuted for the horrendous crime committed by Union Carbide in Bhopal.
Congress leader and Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee: “There was deterioration of law and order situation in Bhopal and to avert that he had sent Anderson out of Bhopal.”Reports in Indian and foreign newspapers of that time (the week spanning December 3 to 10) do not mention any “deterioration of law and order”.
Then Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Arjun Singh on video standing just outside the Union Carbide plant: “There was no intention to prosecute anyone or try to, sort of, harass anyone. Therefore, he (Anderson) was granted bail and he agreed to be present in court when the charges are made.”
Anderson on video (December 7, 1984): “House arrest or no arrest and bail, no bail, I am free to go home... There is a law of the United States... India, bye, bye!”
Congress spokesman Manish Tewari: “At the end of it, there was a systemic failure and there is a need to address it... If we go into the game of finger-pointing, there can be no end.”
According to Manish Tewari, anybody pointing a finger at Rajiv Gandhi, who was then Prime Minister, for having agreed to give Anderson safe passage under American pressure is “unpatriotic”!
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On whether the Rajiv Gandhi Government was aware of safe passage being promised to Anderson, Tewari said: “I reject the conclusions with the contempt they deserve. There was never ever any intention of the Central Government to allow any culprit to go scot-free.”
Really, Mr Tewari?
Gordon Streeb, who was Deputy Chief of Mission at the American Embassy when the Union Carbide disaster happened and was filling in for the Ambassador, has told India’s premier news agency IANS that “safe passage” for Anderson and immunity from legal action during his visit to India were part of the assurances given to him by the Ministry of External Affairs before the UC chairman arrived.
Excerpts from the IANS exclusive:
Streeb recalled that Union Carbide contacted the American Embassy indicating that its chairman, Anderson, wanted to fly to India to see for himself what had happened and to show "concern for the victims" at the "highest level of the company".
"The issue was whether he would be guaranteed access to the site and eventual safe return to the US," Streeb told IANS, adding: "This was a reasonable precaution since legal systems differ so widely around the world."
With the Ambassador, Harry G. Barnes, out of India, Streeb was liaising with the Ministry of External Affairs on the sensitive issue.
The Ministry "advised that it would be a very welcome gesture if Anderson could come to India and that the Government of India could assure him that no steps would be taken against him during his visit".
Anderson came to India and reached Bhopal with the plan to meet with then Madhya Pradesh chief minister Arjun Singh. Instead, he was arrested on December 7 by the State police.
"I immediately contacted the foreign ministry and was assured the (that) government of India would honour its commitment to provide Anderson safe passage in and out of India," said Streeb in his communication to IANS.
Based on the Indian Government's assurance, Anderson was brought to New Delhi and "departed on the next commercial flight back to the United States".
Streeb said that then foreign secretary, M.K. Rasgotra, had been his chief interlocutor during this period. "I am in no position to comment on the decision making process within the government of India, i.e., who made the decisions referred to above and how Anderson's release was arranged," said Streeb, who is also member of the India China America Institute's advisory board.
M K Rasgotra told Karan Thapar in an exclusive interview aired by CNN-IBN that Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson was given safe passage after a decision taken by PV Narasimha Rao, the then Home Minister, and to which Rajiv Gandhi had no objections.
Ragotra said: “He (Gordon Streeb) said Anderson wanted to come here. There was a tragic situation and he wanted to see things himself, wanted to offer his condolences but he would come only if granted safe passage.”
The former diplomat added, “I said, I cannot assure of safe passage. I would have to consult concerned authorities and I will get back to you.... I got in touch with the Home Ministry and I got in touch with the Cabinet Secretary. I told them what Streeb had asked for and I waited for the instructions.” He admitted to have got the instructions the “same day”.
Terming the request for safe passage by Anderson as “understandable”, Rasgotra also described his arrest as wrong. “It was quite understandable request. This man wanted to come, express his condolences and sorrow. I thought it was quite understandable and if he wanted to come, we should let him come.... He was given safe passage and the arrest was wrong. And the authorities, I think, realised that was a bad thing to do and they released him,” he said, adding, “Matters were left with Narasimha Rao, may have asked the home ministry to release Anderson as it was a wrong thing to arrest Anderson. Releasing Anderson was in India's interest.” Rasgotra emphasised that Rajiv Gandhi was informed later and he concurred with the decision.
Ragotra also hinted that former US President Ronald Reagan could have called Rajiv Gandhi.
The Pittsburgh Press carried a statement issued by Union Carbide’s headquarters in the US, saying that the arrest (of Anderson) had violated an Indian Government promise to provide him with safe passage. “Warren Anderson went to India fully expecting to be of assistance and was provided with safe passage assurances from the Indian Government,” the company was quoted as saying by The Pittsburgh Press.
After such knowledge, what forgiveness?