The Centre was responsible for the release and safe passage given to Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson who visited Bhopal in the aftermath of the deadly gas tragedy in 1984.
“He was given safe passage. The arrest was a wrong thing to do and hence was released,” said the man who was then in the hot seat, India’s foreign secretary M. K. Rasgotra in an interview with a private news channel CNN-IBN.
Giving a detailed account of the Centre’s role in his release, Rasgotra said after top US authorities approached him, he took up the matter with the Union Home Ministry. Finally, Anderson was allowed to leave for the US.
“It was the home ministry’s concern... Rajiv Gandhi concurred with the decision of safe passage,” he said adding Anderson even visited the South Block for 20 minutes before leaving for the US.
Recalling the turn of events, the foreign secretary said when Anderson was taken into custody in Madhya Pradesh, Gordon Streeb (then deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in New Delhi) approached him and the matter was left with P. V. Narasimha Rao, the then Union home minister.
Though Rasgotra denied having spoken to Rajiv Gandhi on the issue, he said: “It is possible that Ronald Reagan may have called the PM on this issue... Rajiv Gandhi had no regret about granting safe passage to Anderson.”
He, however, justified the government’s decision. Anderson’s arrest would have impacted the foreign investments in India. Had he been not allowed to go, it would also have spoilt India’s relations with the US, the foreign secretary added.