I wonder what the US would have done, had a Bhopal like tragedy happened out there. If on account of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre– which unfortunately took 2995 innocent lives, including that of not-so-innocent 19 terrorists, and injured almost 6000 people– they demolished a complete nation in search of one individual, I wonder what would have they done if someone’s negligence had killed a staggering 22,000 innocent people, including children and women, and had caused permanent damages for another 120,000 people and affected some 5,50,000 people in some way or the other! If something like this would not have triggered a demolition drive, like they did in the former case, just on account of the merit of the crime (as World Trade Centre was an orchestrated crime and Bhopal tragedy was a criminal negligence), I am sure they would not have let any nation safeguard the perpetrator of the crime, like they have been doing with respect to Warren Anderson, the former CEO of Union Carbide India Limited, for so many years. In fact, no other nation would have left the US to be at peace, had something similar happened with them. But then the US cannot alone be blamed for such duality, as they can take such an audacious step only when the nation in question is India. It is outrageous that the Indian government allowed Anderson to flee, post the tragedy!
It was the intervening night of 2nd and 3rd of December of 1984, when a Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) and other toxic gases leaked from the Union Carbide India Limited factory located in Bhopal– turning a sleepy town into a morgue, almost overnight. The tragedy has been recorded as the worst industrial disaster in recorded history. It is just not that scores of people died on the spot, but the ones who survived succumbed to permanent fatal injuries, forever. Thousands became orphans and homeless and in a matter of hours an entire generation became the victim of someone’s blatant negligence. It was not that the effects of the lethal MIC were unknown to the perpetrators, nor was it that the union at the UCIL never notified the hazards of the leak much in advance, but nothing was done to mitigate the same. It has been a conspiracy wherein everyone, starting from the US Administration to the government of India to the local state government– has been hand in gloves with each other. Otherwise, how can one explain that immediately after the tragedy, the key culprit, Warren Anderson, was arrested and was immediately released within a matter of two days by the Madhya Pradesh police? How can one explain that he was conveniently declared a fugitive when he audaciously did not bother to revert to the CBI summons? How would one explain that even after he was declared an absconder by the court, the government still remained silent for almost ten long years! And finally, when the government woke up in 2003 to do a formality by sending an extradition order, the US government conveniently denied the request!
In fact, the ordeal of the bereaved never ended. It was so very unfortunate the way the Indian government bargained on behalf of the bereaved families, and how shamelessly it shortchanged them! After filing a claim of USD 3.3 billion in the US courts, the government finally settled for an out of court settlement of a measly USD 470 million. Though in the name of compensation some pittance has been given to the victims, but if reports are to be believed the government has not been able to disburse the entire compensation. In fact the delay in compensation created an entire ghost economy of racketeers who siphoned off the compensation in the name of ghost victims.
As if all this was not enough, to further dig the wounds of the victims of Bhopal, after 26 long years of deceit and agony, the court just delivered a mockery of justice by sentencing all seven accused, including Keshub Mahindra, the then Union Carbide India Ltd (UCIL) chief, to a mere two years of imprisonment and a fine of measly Rs one lakh each. What more, the court has already granted a bail!
So while Anderson enjoys a comfortable life in the US, Keshub Mahindra and seven others are out on bail, and politics is as usual– the agony of Bhopal Gas tragedy victims continue. Going by the sequence of events, what looked like a tragedy then looks like a homicide now!!
- 11 June 2010 |
- Arindam On America