Four days after the gas leak, an army of Indian and foreign mediapersons waited for Union Carbide Corporation chairman Warren Anderson outside the company’s guest house for nearly eight hours — only to learn later that their prey had come and gone.
Anderson had flown to Bhopal from Bombay by an Indian Airlines flight to avoid public attention that a company jet would have attracted.
He was accompanied by UCIL chairman Keshub Mahindra and managing director V.P. Gokhale. Bhopal’s District Magistrate Moti Singh, SP Swaraj Puri and a posse of policemen met them on the tarmac beside an official Ambassador car waiting for the Carbide bosses. Followed by Singh and Puri in another car, Anderson and his colleagues were taken to the Carbide guest-house through the backdoor to avoid the media.
An officer, who was part of the operation, said the team spent anxious moments at the back-gate as the lock refused to open. So, several policemen lifted the entire six-foot-high gate from its hinges to make way for Anderson’s car.
Inside the plush guest-house, an officer of the rank of deputy superintendent of police, who was waiting for the Carbide top brass, told them they were all under arrest. Soon a magistrate materialised and read them the charges — culpable homicide not amounting to murder (a non-bailable offence), killing of livestock and making the atmosphere noxious.
Even as the news jolted corporate circles around the world, state Chief Minister Arjun Singh received a “mysterious” call, paving the way for Anderson’s release.
Within six hours of his arrest, Anderson was a free man, released on a bail of Rs 25,000. He was taken out of the guest-house the way he was brought in — by lifting the back gate from its hinges — and provided a state plane to fly to Delhi, from where he boarded his private jet for the US after two days.