Monday, November 29, 1999

Home Ministry, Cab Sec involved on Anderson issue: Rasgotra

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New Delhi, June 17 (PTI) Union Carbide Chief Warren Anderson was given a "safe passage" in 1984 following a decision taken in a day by the Home Ministry and the Cabinet Secretary, the then Foreign Secretary M K Rasgotra disclosed today, adding a new twist to the raging controversy over the Bhopal gas tragedy. "I got in touch with the Home Ministry and I got in touch with the Cabinet Secretary. I told them what Gordon Streeb (the then deputy chief of the US mission here) had asked for and I waited for the instructions," Rasgotra said following a request from the US Embassy categorically asking for a safe passage for Anderson. His comments came on the eve of the meeting of the Group of Ministers to discuss various aspects of the fallout of the Bhopal court verdict in the gas tragedy case. Raising its pitch, BJP accused the Rajiv Gandhi-led Congress government of "willingly and deliberately having conspired" to grant a safe passage to Anderson. On its part, the Congress skirted questions on the then Congress government''s involvement on the Anderson issue. "Since there is a GOM and it has been given the mandate, it will be appropriate to wait for its outcome than indulging in speculations," Congress spokesman Manish Tewari told reporters. Rasgotra, who broke his silence, said in an interview to CNN-IBN that the decision to give Anderson a safe passage was taken "the same day". "He (Streeb) said Anderson wanted to come here. There was a tragic situation and he wanted to see things himself, wanted to offer his condolences but he would come only if granted safe passage," Rasgotra said. According to the channel, Rasgotra said Rajiv Gandhi was subsequently told about granting Anderson a safe passage, to which he did not object. .

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