New Delhi, Nov 01: Bhopal gas tragedy fugitive and former Union Carbide Corporation CEO Warren Anderson died at a hospital near his residence in Florida more than a month ago. It was revealed on Friday. The survivors of the major tragedy those fighting for compensation, rehabilitation and justice said that he died "unpunished".
The New York Times reported that Anderson died on September 29 but it was not announced by his family. He was 92. His death went unnoticed for a month before The New York Times accessed the information from public records.
ND Jayaprakash, co-convenor of the Bhopal Gas Peedith Sangharsh Sahayog Samiti (BGPSSS), said, "This will be a regret forever". It can be said that the justice was undone, and the Indian government failed to get him back and prosecute him for the major crime, rather it allowed the accused to go unpunished.
While thousands of gas victims suffered and waited years for justice, Anderson was leading a comfortable life and died peacefully in his homeland.
Four days after a deadly gas leak at Union Carbide plant in Bhopal killed thousands in 1984, Anderson, was arrested on his arrival in the capital of Madhya Pradesh. But after being held under house arrest for only a few hours, Anderson posted bail and quickly left the country, never returning to face trial.
Several reports suggested that the then government led by PM Rajiv Gandhi was pressured by the US to let Anderson go. Senior Congress leader Arjun Singh, who was then the chief minister of MP, wrote in his autobiography "A Grain of Sand in the Hourglass of Time" that home secretary R.D. Pradhan called him "on the instructions of the then Union home minister P.V. Narasimha Rao".
However, Pradhan denied the allegation, saying he was chief secretary of Maharashtra at the time and became Union home secretary only in January 1985. Singh died in 2011 after a prolonged illness. Moti Singh, who was the Bhopal collector at the time of the disaster, said Anderson managed to get away by using a phone in the room where he was detained to contact persons in the US.
Anderson never returned to face trial and was declared a fugitive by Indian courts. Rights activists have blamed successive governments for failing to secure the extradition of the man who was held responsible for the death of around 15,000 people. Over half a million people were injured by the gas, and many of them died slowly from illnesses like lung cancer, kidney failure and liver disease.
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