The Home Ministry, under P V Narasimha Rao, had assured "safe passage" to Union Carbide Chief Warren Anderson before he came to India in the aftermath of the deadly 1984 Bhopal gas leakage, the then Foreign Secretary M K Rasgotra said here today.
He said the then Prime Minister late Rajiv Gandhi was subsequently told about granting Anderson a safe passage, to which he did not object and had concurred.
"Rajiv Gandhi was not in Delhi and I felt that really the Home Ministry was concerned and they will do the needful, which they did," Rasgotra said when asked why he did not consult the late Prime Minister, who was holding the Foreign Ministry portfolio too.
"Obviously, he (Rajiv) concurred with that decision but that was after the event," he said.
Anderson had requested a "safe passage" through the US Embassy, Rasgotra told Karan Thapar in an interview for CNN-IBN.
"He (Gordon Streeb, the then deputy chief of the US mission here) said Anderson wanted to come here. There was a tragic situation and he wanted to see things himself, wanted to offer his condolences but he would come only if granted safe passage," Rasgotra said.
"I said, I cannot assure of safe passage. I would have to consult concerned authorities and I will get back to you...I got in touch with the Home Ministry and I got in touch with the Cabinet Secretary. I told them what Streeb had asked for and I waited for the instructions," the former diplomat said.
Rasgotra also maintained that he got the instructions the "same day".
Terming the request for safe passage by Anderson as "understandable", Rasgotra also described his arrest as "wrong."
"It was quite understandable request. This man wanted to come, express his condolences and sorrow. I thought it was quite understandable and if he wanted to come, we should let him come...He was given safe passage and the arrest was wrong. And the authorities, I think, realised that was a bad thing to do and they released him," he said.
Asked if then chief minister of Madhya Pradesh Arjun Singh was unaware of the safe passage which resulted in Anderson's brief arrest in Bhopal, Rasgotra said "Did Arjun Singh really arrest him or the administrative authorities or police arrested. I cannot say."
Govt Assured Anderson of 'Safe Passage': Rasgotra
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