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Persistent calls came from Home Ministry to let off Anderson: Arjun

‘Manmohan must take up extradition issue with Obama'

Breaking his silence on the Bhopal gas tragedy on Wednesday in the Rajya Sabha, Congress member Arjun Singh said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh should take up with United States President Barack Obama, during his coming visit, the issue of extradition of Warren Anderson, former chairman of United Carbide Corporation.

“This is an unspoken promise to be fulfilled. Then full and adequate compensation [for the victims of gas leak] can be asked for.”

Participating in a short duration discussion on recent developments relating to the Bhopal tragedy, Mr. Arjun Singh said he had read somewhere that Mr. Obama had said: “let somebody make a reference, then we'll see.”

Mr. Singh, who was Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh when toxic methylisocyanate gas leaked from Union Carbide's factory in Bhopal killing thousands of people on December 3, 1984, told the House that there had been “persistent calls” from the Home Ministry for letting off Mr. Anderson, whom he arrested on arrival in Bhopal on December 6.

Taking “full responsibility” for the arrest, Mr. Singh said he was informed by his Chief Secretary (Brahma Swarup) that there had been “persistent calls” from Home Ministry officials in New Delhi for granting bail to Mr. Anderson.

He said that when Mr. Anderson was sent back in a state plane, even he felt it was incongruous. “I do not want to enlarge upon that and add to the grief and bitterness by shifting my blame on anybody.” Mr. Singh said that on the night of December 3 he informed the Prime Minister's Office about the tragedy. Rajiv Gandhi, who was away on an election tour, visited Bhopal the following day.

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