New Delhi, Aug 18 (Calcutta Tube/IBNS): Breaking his silence on former Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson’s escape from India in the aftermath of the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy, then-Madhya Pradesh chief minister and Rajya Sabha member Arjun Singh on Wednesday said that he had ensured that Anderson was arrested after the disaster.
“I felt Anderson should be arrested and ensured that he was. I had given the orders for his arrest,” Singh said during a debate on the Bhopal gas tragedy in the Upper House.
Taking a high on the issue, the veteran Congress leader said, “I am ready to suffer any punishment for arresting Anderson.”
“I also fully endorse the government’s efforts to extradite Anderson.”
Defending his role in shielding Anderson from public wrath at that time, Singh said, “Many people had assembled outside the airport (in Bhopal) when Anderson had landed. And it was my responsibility to see that he was not harmed.”
Singh, however, sounded critical of the former Union Carbide CEO and said, “I was surprised by his arrogance when he landed at the airport.”
On political developments immediately after the tragedy, Singh said that he had offered to resign as the chief minister.
“I had offered to quit but Rajivji (late Rajiv Gandhi, then-Prime Minister) asked me to stay put. The compensation to the victims was topmost on Rajivji’s mind at the time.”
“I stayed put in Bhopal during the tragedy,” Singh added.
Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley, (BJP), expressing disappointment at Singh’s statements, said that the former chief minister was quoting people who have died and cannot substantiate his comments.
“Dead people do not tell tales,” Jaitley said as Singh concluded his statement.
The government will reply on the debate on Thursday.