Not that there was an iota of any doubt on Congress's complicity in l'affaire Anderson, but because the party continues to brazen it out, the sideshow carries on and on.
First they said “the immigration/emigration records of 1984 are not available” and the government was dependent on “contemporary media reports” for its knowledge of that controversial visit. More than enough "contemporary media reports" had already been documented recently, and only the previous day the readers’ editor of The Hindu had dredged up old files to reveal G.K. Reddy’s reporting from 1984 on the story.
The Group of Ministers report claims “contemporary media reports also indicate that the Prime Minister, Shri Rajiv Gandhi, was briefed on the matter [of the UCC chief's arrival, arrest and departure] after Anderson left the country.”
But on December 7, 1984, TheHindu's New Delhi bureau chief G.K. Reddy filed a report, saying the Prime Minister's “Principal Secretary Dr. P. C. Alexander brought the facts to his notice today while he was still in Madhya Pradesh, before the Centre intervened to secure Mr. Anderson's release and arrange for his flight to Delhi later that night.”
Clearly, TheHindu's “contemporary” report indicates that Rajiv Gandhi was informed even before Mr. Anderson left the guest house in Bhopal, and certainly before he left India, in direct contradiction of the GoM claim.
Not only that, The Hindu has also pulled out its issues of December 8 and 9, 1984 to show that the GOM’s conclusions is “either a careless misreading of the reports or, more likely, a clumsy attempt at a cover-up”:
The irony is that in attempting to provide Rajiv Gandhi with an unnecessary alibi for one of the many sideshows of the gas tragedy — how Union Carbide Corporation chief Warren Anderson came to
Exclusive: Text of Group of Ministers report on issues relating to Bhopal Gas Leak Calamitybe arrested and released so quickly on December 7, 1984 — the GoM will likely ensure the late Congress leader and Prime Minister remains at the centre of political controversy.
The Hindu's G.K. Reddy had way back then talked about the “deplorable lack of coordination” between the Central and State governments. The sequence of events as they unfolded are clear to anybody who's followed the story
1, That Anderson was not in India and did not have to visit
2. That he visited on a clear undertaking of safe-passage.
3, Therefore, as per the central government's undertaking, he should not have been arrested in the fist place. But an election had to be won, and he was. And then equally imperiously released.
4. The above has been corroborated by Mr Rasgotra, the then foreign secretary, and the American embassy officials.
But because of this “deplorable lack of coordination”, and because of their acting too clever by half, and trying to protect the holiest of their holy, the party has only succeeded in tying itself up in knots more and more, resorting to one subterfuge after another - and it continues even today. As the Hindu op-ed today also points out, more seriously:
The GoM report notes in paragraph 16 that an FIR was registered at the Hanumanganj police station on December 3, 1984 against Carbide officials which mentioned only Section 304-A (gross negligence) and no other section. But the reports by G.K. Reddy and PTI note that Mr. Anderson and others “were arrested” as soon as they landed in Bhopal from Bombay “under seven different sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The Sections are: 120B (criminal conspiracy), 304 (culpable homicide not amounting to murder), 304A (causing death by negligence), 426 (mischief), 429 (mischief in the killing of livestock), 278 (making atmosphere noxious to health), and 284 (negligent conduct in respect of poisonous substances)”.
In fact the bond which Mr. Anderson signed in Bhopal prior to his release also noted:
“I have been arrested by Hanumanganj Police Station, District Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India under Criminal Sections 304 A, 304, 120 B, 278, 429, 426 & 92. I am signing this bond for Rs. 25,000/- and thus undertaking to be present whenever and wherever I am directed to be present by the police or the Court”.
Since Section 304 is a ‘non-bailable offence', i.e. bail can only be granted by a judge and not on the basis of a bond, were legal corners also cut to ensure Mr. Anderson was released immediately?
Read the full Hindu op-ed