Anderson extradition was not on agenda with Obama: Krishna

Thursday, November 11, 2010

NEW DELHI - In a candid admission that is set to upset activists demanding justice for the Bhopal gas tragedy victims, the government Thursday said the issue of extraditing former Union Carbide chief Warren Anderson did not figure in the talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and US President Barack Obama.

External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna told parliament here Thursday that as per the directions of the Group of Ministers, the material prepared by the investigating agency in support of extraditing Anderson was under examination by the competent authorities from the legal angle.

“Pending such examination, the issue was not specifically placed on the agenda of discussions with the US president,” the minister said in a written reply in the Rajya Sabha.

Ahead of Obama’s Nov 6-9 visit, a section of the political establishment, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Left parties, had pressed the government to take up the issue of Anderson’s extradition during the talks with Obama.

Two NGOs working for the Bhopal gas tragedy victims had appealed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to raise the issue of extraditing Anderson, the prime accused in the case, with Obama during their meeting Monday.

They had wanted the prime minister to impress upon Obama about the urgency of expediting the process of extradition of the absconding accused from the US to stand trial as per the laws of this land.

In a letter to Manmohan Singh, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan had asked him to seek Anderson’s extradition during his talks with Obama, who was chairman of Union Carbide when its Bhopal plant leaked poisonous gas that caused the deaths of thousands in 1984.

In the letter, the chief minister said Obama’s tour of India has given “us an opportunity to make him aware of the sentiments of people of Madhya Pradesh, especially the gas victims, and to raise the issue of extradition of Anderson.”

Anderson was declared a fugitive by a Bhopal court Feb 1, 1992, for failing to appear at the court hearings in a culpable homicide case in which he was named the chief defendant.

The US has declined to extradite him citing a lack of evidence.

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