By Manuwant Choudhary
The strongman former chief minister of Madhya Pradesh Arjun Singh - 26 years after the Bhopal Gas Tragedy - tells India on what really happened and why the Union Carbide CEO Warren Anderson was arrested and then let go in a State airplane...he blames the Home Ministry and not the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi for the fiasco.
The last statement of Mr. Warren Anderson was `Bye, Bye India."
More than 700 people were killed at first count but later the total death toll is 22000 people while thousands continue to suffer from after effects to this very day without any compensation being given.
In the upper house of India's parliament the Rajya Sabha a considerably weak Arjun Singh spoke softly on what happened 26 years before in Bhopal. "On the night of the tragedy I called up the Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi but he was away on tour."
"It was my decision to arrest Warren Anderson. When I heard that he was coming to Bhopal I could not imagine the audacity of the man who is responsible for so many deaths to come to the state so I gave written orders to the police to arrest him the minute he landed on Madhya Pradesh soil."
"The Superintendant of Police MR. Puri arrested him on arrival and as he was being taken to an old guest house for detention he asked the SP why the chief minister was not there to receive him!"
"After his arrest I met Rajiv Gandhi and told him about the days happenings and the arrest of Mr. Anderson but Rajivji did not say anything ..he did not approve or disapprove anything I did...and instead went on to the next meeting."
"Later my chief secretary called me that there were many phone calls from the Home Ministry in New Delhi asking him that bail be granted to Mr. Anderson. I told my chief secretary that do what you want but the fact that he was arrested should be recorded so that he can be brought to justice as and when he was required."
"I fully support the Group of Ministers recommendations to the Government of India to extradite Mr. Anderson so that justice is done. I take full responsibilty for his arrest and I was also responsible for his safety because I knew then that he would be lynched by the people from the nearest lampost."
"Some of the opposition members have said here that Union Carbide had taken over the administration of Madhya Pradesh. I would like to say it may be a case with others who cling to power but not with me. I offered to resign soon after the tragedy but it was not accepted by Rajivji. Later I was moved to Punjab. Had I stayed as chief minister I would have ensured justice. But I am ready to accept blame as an ordinary citizen of this country."
"I am sorry I am taking so much time to talk but sometimes time itself has no meaning."
Mr. Arjun Singh however did not name the persons from the Home Ministry who called up for the release of Mr. Anderson and the then Chief Secretary is also dead.
A clear case of deflecting the blame from India's Prime Minister and we all know that advice from just the Home Ministry official is not enough for the release of Warren Anderson or anyone.
Its a failed attempt by Arjun Singh to defend his leader Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi...and even if Rajiv Gandhi was not directly involved whatever happened to the principle of `collective responsibility'.
The Congress Party simply cannot be trusted to run India.
The victims of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy continue to suffer in silence and I have seen how every year they march to India's parliament seeking justice...