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US papers point to BJP inaction

world Updated: Jun 12, 2010 23:37 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya

Even as the BJP tries to corner the Congress over its failure to extradite Warren Anderson for the Bhopal gas tragedy, it appears that the NDA government, too, didn't show much enthusiasm about it.

On a day BJP chief Nitin Gadkari targeted former Madhya Pradesh chief minister Arjun Singh in particular, new US government documents showed the BJP-led NDA's reluctance to chase Anderson.

A sensitive but unclassified (SBU) document from the US consulate in Mumbai dated July 26, 2004, indicates this clearly.

The BJP-led alliance was in power between March 1998 and May 2004. The documents refer to its role in 2001-02.

The SBU document states: "GoI (Government of India) officials may feel that, for political reasons, they need to be perceived as being concerned about extraditing Anderson."

It further said: "This (extradition) does not currently appear to be a high priority bilateral issue for the GoI."

A letter by the US consulate in Mumbai cites the advice of then Attorney General Soli Sorabjee, given in August 2001. "Efforts should not be made to extradite Warren Anderson as there was inadequate evidence to link him directly to the cause of the gas leak".

The same letter also mentions the reply given by then Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Tapan Sikdar in Parliament in November 2002.

"The government has examined the request for Anderson's extradition, in consultation with concerned authorities. The investigation agency (CBI) has been asked to strengthen

the evidentiary links connecting Anderson to the Bhopal tragedy so that the extradition request could be forwarded to the US government," Sikdar had said.

These documents were accessed by the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal under the US Freedom of Information Act.

The US, however, said it would give "fair consideration" in case India makes a request for the extradition of the former Union Carbide Corporation chief.

US State Department spokesman PJ Crowley, said, "Obviously, if the government of India makes such a request of us, we will carefully evaluate it. We have an extradition treaty with India."

Crowley, however, stressed that since extradition requests were confidential, he could not verify details pertaining to any related to Anderson.