With the circumstances under which Warren Anderson was flown out in a State plane, a former Madhya Pradesh aviation official says he received a call from the then Chief Minister Arjun Singh’s office to arrange for his departure.
Also, the identity of the then chief of Union Carbide was kept a secret and not revealed to the pilots of the State government plane who flew him out of Bhopal on December 7, 1984 within hours after he landed here in a commercial plane from Mumbai.
“I got a call from the CM’s office that we have to arrange for an aircraft for Delhi flight... Accordingly we arranged the aircraft belonging to the Government of Madhya Pradesh,” Captain R.S. Sodhi, who was the Director of Aviation in 1984, told TV channels on Thursday. Mr. Arjun Singh has so far maintained silence on the issue.
After the Bhopal gas case verdict on June 7, the focus is back on how Andersen was allowed to get away on despite being arrested on charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder for the gas disaster at the Carbide plant on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984. Over 15,000 persons were dead in the world’s worst industrial disaster.
Anderson was whisked away to the airport, where the Chief Minister’s official plane stood waiting. Senior bureaucrats and police officers were also present at the airport.
Mr. Sodhi said the city’s Superintendent of Police and Collector Moti Singh waved to Anderson as he boarded the plane.
Captain S.H. Ali, who piloted the plane, said the identity of his passenger was kept a secret and not revealed to him. Mr. Ali said Andersen was looking tired and upset.
“We got flight information from director R.S. Sodhi for a flight from Bhopal to Delhi. I was told to keep aircraft ready. I planned it one hour before-hand. We waited for Mr. Anderson,” Mr. Ali recalled.
Mr. Ali said Andersen came with the Superintendent of Police and Collector of Bhopal.
“It was an one-hour-35-minute flight. We landed in Delhi. An ambassador picked him up from next to the plane. I left him with the airport manager. Another car was waiting for him there,” he said.
Mr. Ali also said Anderson was the lone passenger.
“Only one person received him at the airport. He was looking tired and upset. It was a State government plane. We did not know who he was. It was kept a secret,” he said.
Ali’s version of events corroborated what the then Bhopal Collector Moti Singh said on Wednesday.
“The Chief Secretary at that time called me to the room and told me to arrange for the departure of Warren Anderson,” Mr. Moti Singh had said.
“At around 2 pm, the Chief Secretary called the police chief and me and told us to release Anderson and send him to Delhi by plane. Accordingly we went to that place, did the formalities, and he was released on bail and sent to Delhi by plane,” Mr. Moti Singh said.
Mr. Ali when asked who gave the orders to pilots told NDTV, “This came from our captain, R.S. Sodhi. He was our Director he gets the information from the Chief Minister (CM) or CM’s staff or Secretary to the CM. They pass the order to the Director and the Director passes them to the pilots... or he himself flies,” he said.