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Rajiv govt freed Warren Anderson: CIA papers

New Delhi: Warren Anderson, former chairman of the American parent company Union Carbide Corp responsible for the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, was released after being arrested on December 7 that year on the Central government’s orders to Madhya Pradesh.

This fact about the gas tragedy has emerged from declassified CIA documents dated 8 December 1984: a day after Anderson left India and five days after the deadly methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas leaked from Union Carbide’s Bhopal plant.

The documents show Anderson’s quick release was ordered by the Central government of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. With elections weeks away, the Centre felt the Madhya Pradesh government was overly eager to score political points against Union Carbide.

The Centre felt that public pressure after the gas tragedy would force a new government to move cautiously in developing foreign investment with multinationals, especially US companies.

The documents say that with elections nearing, politicians at the state and Centre were trying to deflect blame from themselves to UCIL (Union Carbide India Ltd.) and wring compensation from the parent company.

Moti Singh, who was the District Collector of Bhopal at the time of gas leak, has said that Anderson was arrested at around 2 pm on December 7 but he was released the same day and flew out of Bhopal in a state government plane to New Delhi.

Singh claims the then Chief Secretary of the state government ordered him to release Anderson.

Congress leader Arjun Singh, who was Chief Minister Madhya Pradesh in 1984, is believed to have ordered his officials to release Anderson but Digvijay Singh, his party colleague from the state, on Thursday told CNN-IBN that the MP government “only implemented” the Centre’s instructions in the gas leak case.

“There was a Cabinet Committee in the government of India which took all decisions regarding this case. The only task the government of Madhya Pradesh was to get the decisions implemented,” said Digvijay.

Anderson was charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, grievous assault and killing and poisoning human beings and animals. A Bhopal trial court on Monday convicted eight Indian officials of Union Carbide for their criminal negligence that triggered the world’s worst industrial disaster, but Anderson was not mentioned in the judgment.

Declassified CIA document on Warren anderson

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