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Didn't discuss Bhopal: PM

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By MANINI CHATTERJEE
  • Published 30.06.10
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On board PM’s special flight, June 29: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seemed unaffected by the domestic controversy on how the Bhopal gas tragedy has been mishandled by successive governments since the days of Rajiv Gandhi in 1984.

On the question of seeking the extradition of former Union carbide chief Warren Anderson, the Prime Minister said: “Well, we are where we stand. We will try to ensure that the US government takes a more favourable attitude towards extradition. But we have not approached them yet. I did not raise this issue in my discussions with President (Barack) Obama. We will cross the bridge when we come to it.”

Singh also side-stepped a question on whether he believed the Bhopal tragedy reflected the collective failure of India’s political establishment and judiciary in providing justice to ordinary Indians who became victims of man-made disasters, and what his government planned to do to prevent a repeat of such injustice in the future.

Selectively answering part of the question, Singh said: “What we propose to do has been made clear by the GoM, whose report has been endorsed by the cabinet. It is a fact that our judicial processes are time consuming. The inadequacies of the judicial system, that it should have taken 25 years before the case could be decided is something that we have to reflect about….”

To another question on why the Congress establishment was not coming clean on who was responsible for letting Anderson go in 1984, the Prime Minister said: “We are not hiding anything. I think the GoM (group of ministers) has looked at records. There is nothing that they have come across by way of definite findings as to who took the decision. Those records are not available now.”

On the perennial question on Pakistan, Singh stuck to his patented cautious optimism note. “As I have said before, in dealing with Pakistan our attitude has to be ‘trust, but verify’. So only time will tell which way the animal will turn.”

Asked whether he had taken up the issue of Chinese nuclear reactors help to Pakistan in his talks with the US President on Sunday, the Prime Minister said the talks essentially revolved around Obama’s visit to India this November and “so I did not have the time to dwell on the issues that you have raised”.