The media is playing dumb again pretending not to know who allowed the Union Carbide boss in India, Warren Anderson to get away after a lethal gas, methyl isocyanate leaked from the company’s factory in Bhopal in 1984 killing over 3,500 people, maiming another 15,000-odd and killing them thereafter.
Frankly, when I heard it myself, I was left thinking, surprisingly, I wasn’t taken aback. But I suddenly lost respect for a man, probably the only Congressman I held in high-esteem. His name is Rajiv Gandhi.
The facts were already out. In 1984, there was a Congress government in Madhya Pradesh headed by perhaps the most trusted and senior member of the Congress party – Arjun Singh.
For days on end, the media has anguished over the name of the person who could have ordered Arjun Singh to fly Anderson in the chief ministerial plane to Delhi. The man is none other than Rajiv Gandhi, who was then, prime minister of India — a person I had immense respect and admiration for.
It is a wonder that the electronic media-men (and women), who make it their business to poke and gnaw various panelists by asking them the most inopportune questions, have failed to grasp a few facts that require only the application of one’s common sense.
This common sense will prevail the moment one looks at simple facts. Firstly, that Bhopal was under the jurisdiction of the Congress chief minister at the time – Arjun Singh. Secondly, that it is but obvious that it could only have been the chief minister who could have put Anderson in his private plane and have him flown to Delhi. Thirdly, that Arjun Singh could not have acted of his own accord without the consent of his boss in Delhi – prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. Lastly, it is highly unlikely that Anderson could have flown from Delhi to New York without the express approval of the prime minister himself. Let us believe for a moment, that Rajiv Gandhi did not want Anderson to escape. If so, why wasn’t Anderson detained when he landed in Delhi? It is not cryptic, however, that these facts escaped one of the more loquacious news channel anchors who has a foul habit of cutting off his panelist mid-sentence.
It is not surprising that sycophantic Congressmen who have always towed the line of dynastic accession to the Congress throne, will never speak out against their demigods – the Gandhis, hoping that they will receive a few crumbs from their table, ever more so now, because the former prime minister’s widow presides over the Congress party, and his son is being groomed to take the prime minister’s job in the not-so-distant-future.
Finally, the the media also failed to ask inconvenient questions to the Congress regarding compensation handed out to the victims of the tragedy. The original compensation sought was $3.5 billion, but only $450 million was given as settlement. This is clearly a failure on part of both the central and state governments. Even as of today, 26 years after the terrible tragedy, $350 million still remains to be distributed to the victims of what can easily be called the world’s biggest industrial accident to date. Why has this not been done?
But what will go down in the annals of history is the fact that in the aftermath of the Bhopal gas tragedy, it was prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and the Congress government, who allowed Union Carbide and it’s chief to get away with what I would call a grave crime against innocent Indians. Mistakes were made, no doubt, but no attempts were made to correct those mistakes. And the Indian media has chosen to ignore facts yet again for a purpose which does not demand significant application of reasoning to fathom.
[Written with the help of the article “For them Rajiv could do no wrong” by Virendra Kapoor, Inside Story, Afternoon Despatch and Courier, Monday, June 14, 2010.]
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