Giving a new spin on why Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson was allowed to leave the country after the Bhopal gas tragedy, Pranab Mukherjee today said Arjun Singh had taken the decision keeping in view the prevailing law and order situation.
Though Mukherjee, like many Congress leaders, squarely put the onus of the decision on Singh, the then Madhya Pradesh chief minister, he said this was "thought necessary" as tempers were running high.
The BJP and the Left parties mounted pressure demanding action against those who allowed Anderson to flee and justice for the victims of the tragedy. In Kolkata, Mukherjee told reporters, "The statement made by Singh as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister five days after the Bhopal disaster had been published in a newspaper. It is very clear from the statement of Arjun Singh, which was published in The Times of India on December 8, 1984, that the law and order situation in Bhopal would have deteriorated and people's frenzy and temper were running high. Therefore, it was thought necessary to send him (Anderson) out of Bhopal," he said.
He was asked if the Congress was trying to shield Singh on the issue of exit of Anderson from the country. On whether the government was considering Anderson's extradition to India, Mukherjee said the government would look into the legal avenues available for the possible extradition.
"Though we cannot comment on the court judgement, we have to go to a higher judiciary where there is an appellate provision. We will appeal there," he said. Mukherjee's comments came after several Congress leaders had emphatically dismissed suggestions that Singh had acted at the behest of Rajiv Gandhi and mounted pressure on the senior Congress leader to break his silence on the issue.