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Government admits Bhopal guilt
Faraz Ahmad & Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 11
The Government, for the first time, has accepted the guilt of Bhopal Gas Tragedy.
Replying to a day-long debate on the subject, Home Minister P Chidambaram told Parliament today: “I hope that 25 years later we can all look back with a deep sense of regret and guilt that we did not address the issue as we should have.”

The Home Minister, who chaired the GoM on Bhopal Gas Tragedy set up recently after the court let off the accused in the episode after 25 years with a light sentence, announced that the Government had enhanced the compensation amount awarded by the Supreme Court to the dead from Rs one lakh to Rs 10 lakh and in the same proportion to the injured and others affected.

He also dealt at length on how subsequent governments since 1984, including those led by the Opposition, had treated the issue in a cavalier fashion and added, “We should approach the subject with certain amount of humility.”

He, however, insisted that neither the Centre nor the Madhya Pradesh government had anything to do with the compensation amount as it was decided by the Welfare Commissioner.

Earlier, Union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilisers Srikant Jena detailed the House that the compensation issue was decided exclusively by the judicial officers. He also stated that the demands made by the Opposition had already been met by the Government.

Initiating the debate, Leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj accused the Centre of bartering away victim’s interests to Union Carbide, and suggested a unanimous resolution of the House to quash the 1989 “out-of-court agreement” between the Government and Union Carbide that was let off for Rs 615 crore (divided among 5.5 lakh victims) where the original compensation claim was worth Rs 3,900 crore.








Arjun blames Rao for Anderson’s exit
Ashok Tuteja/TNS

New Delhi, August 11
Senior Congress leader Arjun Singh today defended himself against the charge that he allowed Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson to leave India soon after the December 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy when he was the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh.

Breaking his long silence over the issue, he indirectly blamed the then Union Home Minister P V Narasimha Rao for Anderson’s escape, in what is seen as a clear attempt to give a clean chit to the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

"The Chief Secretary informed me that there have been persistent calls for granting bail to Anderson from Home Ministry officials in Delhi," said Singh, pointing an accusing finger at Rao, with whom he did not enjoy a healthy relationship. He wanted Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take up the issue of Anderson’s extradition from the US with President Barack Obama when the latter visits India in November. A frail-looking Singh read out a statement while remaining seated in the Rajya Sabha when participating in a short-duration discussion on recent developments relating to the gas tragedy. Rejecting the allegation that he had been soft on Anderson, the septuagenarian leader said he had ensured that the Union carbide CEO was arrested soon after his arrival in Bhopal a day after the tragedy, in which more than 20,000 people were killed.

“I personally briefed the officers (about) the decision to arrest Anderson and the Superintendent of Police escorted him to the state guest house for detention when he landed in Bhopal a day after the tragedy,” he said as members from all sides heard him with rapt attention. This was the first time that he had publicly spoken on the issue since a Bhopal court’s verdict in the case that incensed the nation because of the mere two-year jail term granted to the six accused.






PC leaves BJP speechless
Faraz Ahmad
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 11
The BJP was left red-faced and virtually speechless today when Union Home Minister P Chidambaram lifted the gauntlet on its allegation of CBI misuse by the Central Government in Gujarat.

Claiming that he did not want to indulge in polemics, he referred to Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj’s allegation of the CBI’s misuse and gave it back to the BJP amidst loud protests from the entire BJP desk, including Sushma herself.

Replying to the daylong debate on the Bhopal gas tragedy, the Home Minister suddenly turned combative when Sushma and Yashwant Sinha, along with other BJP members, tried to pin the government down on who let Warren Anderson out of India. “I didn’t raise the Sohrabuddin issue, you did,” he said addressing Sushma directly and recalled how “the CID investigations instituted by the Gujarat Government had already established that Sohrabuddin was killed in a fake encounter.” But when Yashwant Sinha tried to pin him down on the killing of Maoist leader Azad in an alleged fake encounter, Chidambram maintained that the Andhra Police had claimed that Azad was killed in an encounter and whoever felt it was a fake encounter should approach the Andhra Government.



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