Although a quarter of a century has passed since the Bhopal gas tragedy struck, there seems no end to the ordeal of the victims of the worst industrial disaster. The details on what holds back the extradition of Warren Anderson, then chairman of the Union Carbide Corporation (“25 years and still waiting,” Dec. 2), paint a bleak picture. With the passage of time, the magnitude of the tragedy has been scaled down and the victims have been let down by those responsible for the disaster and by their own governments. It is not only labour but also life that is cheap in our country.
We are rudely reminded that we live in times where business interests take precedence over the need for accountability. Bhopal is a classic case of justice denied, considering the delay.
The Bhopal tragedy — which has claimed 20,000 lives over the years and led to thousands of children being born with defects — has not made much news because the victims are not bigwigs but poor citizens of the world’s largest but powerless democracy.
How can we expect the U.S. to extradite Mr. Anderson when even our own legal department advised against it? Even assuming for a moment that he is extradited, punishment, if any, is most unlikely to be pronounced in his lifetime because in India, trials proceed at snail’s pace.
That business magnates, actors, politicians, and the so-called influential sections in India can get away with the most heinous crime without even a case being filed against them is hardly a secret. When our own people have the means to escape the arms of law, for us to even think that a foreign investor will be brought to justice is absurd. The world is run by money-launderers, unethical businessmen and greedy politicians. The poor can only dream of justice.
The horrendous tales of suffering of millions of gas victims without adequate compensation are shocking. It is disheartening to note that our successive governments have failed to provide succour to them.
It is hardly surprising that the U.S. refuses to extradite Mr. Anderson using dubious legal loopholes. It is indeed an irony to see the U.S. pressuring Pakistan to act against those responsible for the Mumbai attack, while resisting India’s request for Mr. Anderson’s extradition. In the final analysis, realpolitik is supreme — and it overrules any international convention or agreement.
The article exposes the utter lack of sympathy for the Bhopal gas victims. Successive governments have failed to take the requisite initiative to render justice, at least ameliorate the suffering, of the victims. One wonders whether there is indeed light at the end of the tunnel.
R. Ramachandra Rao,
December 3 is significant for two reasons. It marks the anniversary of the worst industrial disaster in the world — the Bhopal gas leak. And it was on this day in 1971 that our navy torpedoed the incursion of the U.S.-built Pakistani submarine Ghazi off the Visakhapatnam coast. That marked the beginning of the second round of armed hostilities between the two neighbours, which culminated in the surrender of 90,000 Pakistani troops on December 17, 1971 in East Pakistan.