A trust associated with former Union minister Arjun Singh got money from Union Carbide between June 1982 and May 1983 — before the gas tragedy struck in Bhopal in December 1984.
A chartered accountant’s certificate showing Carbide having paid money to the Churhat Children Welfare Society, and a Hindi newspaper clip carrying Arjun’s son Ajay’s statement that it had accepted the “donation” have resurfaced to dent the former HRD minister’s bravado in Parliament.
Arjun had told the Rajya Sabha on Wednesday that he got ex-Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson arrested when he expected he would receive him at Bhopal airport after thousands had died.
But the old documents show that Carbide had donated Rs 1.5 lakh to the trust associated with Arjun’s family when the veteran politician was Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister.
A copy of the audited accounts of the society, dated June 15, 1983, signed by RN Gupta & Associates says the donation had been made between June 1, 1982, and March 31, 1983. It says the donation was collected for building construction and bears the signature of Ajay Singh, secretary of the society.
The issue had surfaced after the gas tragedy in 1984. Ajay, who was then Congress MLA, had held that three other companies had also made donations to the society and that no inference could be drawn with regard to the gas disaster.
The society hit headlines in the mid-80s when a lottery was floated in the name of collecting funds for the welfare of Churhat’s children. There were widespread allegations then about siphoning the huge money that was earned through the lottery.
The issue snowballed into a scandal amid allegations that Arjun Singh had siphoned off Rs 5.6 crore to construct a palatial mansion in Bhopal near the Kerwa dam. The controversy forced Singh’s exit as chief minister in January 1989. His name was finally cleared by the high court.
Former MP CM Kailash Joshi had raised the issue in the Lok Sabha on Wednesday. BJP general secretary Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “Arjun Singh has unwittingly opened a can of worms by his statement in the Rajya Sabha.”