The Central government has denied any official knowledge of the visit of the then Union Carbide chairman, Warren Anderson, to India immediately after the Bhopal gas leak disaster since “the immigration/emigration records of 1984 are not available.”
The government claims that it is dependent on “contemporary media reports” for its knowledge of that controversial visit. The Group of Ministers looking into the issue has made it clear that there are “no records” in the Ministry of External Affairs of his visit, according to its report accepted by the Union Cabinet on Thursday, a copy of which is available with The Hindu.
The report also claims that the GoM does not know who within the government granted Mr. Anderson safe passage, and that any such assurance was only oral, with no written record available. “Contemporary media reports indicate that he visited India on an oral assurance [it is not known by whom] of safe passage and that he left India presumably on the basis of that assurance,” says the report.
Similarly, the government attributes any information on the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi's involvement to the media. “Contemporary media reports also indicate that the Prime Minister Shri Rajiv Gandhi was briefed on the matter after Mr. Anderson left the country.”
The report adds: “There are no records in the Ministry of External Affairs of his visit or who he met on his visit.”
However, the GoM “noted” that bail was granted to him “on certain conditions and, once Mr. Anderson obtained bail, there was no impediment to his leaving India.”
On bringing Mr. Anderson to stand trial in India, the GoM report recommends a fresh attempt at securing his extradition on the basis that much of the evidence in the case against the eight Indian accused came on record after the initial extradition request was made in May 2003.
All 178 prosecution witnesses were questioned between November 2005 and May 2009, while eight defence witnesses were examined between June 2009 and February 2010. The GoM feels that this fresh evidence, to the extent that it relates to Mr. Anderson, can be submitted in support of the request for extradition.