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BLOG - ER Ramachandran

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Bethal on Bhopal...

As Raja Thrivikram carried the BethaL on his back and walked, the ghost - BethaL started talking..

‘I admire your intention and efforts to give me salvation. Let me narrate you a story.. I have some questions for you at the end.. Of course if you refuse to answer or give wrong answers your head will break into pieces. You are no doubt aware of that.’

The king nodded his head as BethaL started off.

‘ Long long ago, not very long ago, twenty six years to be exact, there was a major accident in Bhopal in which poisonous gas emanating from the plant killed around 20,000 people and ever since more than lakh of people have been affected one way or other..children born with deformities, respiratory problems and what not..’

Thrivikram look surprised.

‘Don’t look at me like that.. Raja.. I am a BethaL alright but I do keep track of the past, present and future too...’

‘Well, as I was saying… Despite such massive deaths the Government of the day didn’t do much. In fact the chairman of the company from USA, Warren Anderson flew into India visited the site and before you could say ‘Bhopal Gas Tragedy’, got into a plane and had flown back washing his dirty hands off…

Raja Trivikram shifted the Bethal to his left shoulder..

‘Anderson was arrested, released on bail and was flown out of Bhopal and Delhi by the State and Central Government officials. As per rules the passport of a person who is let out on bail should have been impounded… this happens for petty offenses not when it involves death of thousands! Strange are the ways how justice operates amongst you human beings! ’

‘I hope you are listening to what I am saying..’ said Bethal as he continued, ‘ Whether the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi or the Chief Minister Arjun Singh took the decision is not known..

In 1985 Union Carbide agreed to pay compensation package of $470 mln to the Bhopal Gas Victims as an out of court settlement which was a meager amount compared to the magnitude of damage to the victims.

Thrivikram wondered whether BethaL was a lawyer in his earlier life.

‘Meanwhile based on Justice Ahmadi’s decision to convert the case from ‘culpable homicide to’ criminal negligence’, the courts gave a 2 year punishment to 7 of the accused, which was easily bailable with Rs. 25000 each. Justice in your human system is indeed unique..’

‘Listen to me carefully, Thrivikram.. soon my questions will come..’

Raja nodded his head.

‘Good. Following the judgment after 26 years of the tragedy, there was an outcry all over the world with regard to pathetic ‘speed’ of Indian courts, quantum of punishment and the question of who let out the prime suspect Anderson out of the country..

In order to partly divert the public and media outcry the Government immediately sanctioned Rs. 10 lakhs to the family of the victim, decided to cleanup the factory at Government’s expense, and ask for extradition of Warren Anderson..

Are you with me so far..? Ok. Now my questions…

# Who gave the permission to fly out Anderson?
# Can Government now get back the amount for the cleanup from Dow Chemicals?
# Can Anderson be extradited from US…?

Your answer h’d better be correct otherwise your head turn into smithereens..’

‘I will answer your first question, last.’ Started Raja Thrivikram:

‘Law Minister Veerappa Moily is pulling a fast one like Veerappan in his hay days when he says ‘the Government will extradite Warren Anderson.’ If he was allowed to fly away when on bail, how can he be extradited now? Has there been a fresh evidence to warrant that? It is pure and simple eyewash.

Since already $470 mln was paid as per agreement and nobody talked of ‘cleanup’ operation then, how can anybody talk of cleanup now? Dow Chemicals or US Government will not pay a cent towards that. It will come from you and me – I think almost anybody these days has turned in to a bethaLa with the price of petrol, diesel, cooking gas and commodities hitting the roof. It will come from our pockets. We will have to bear that.

Finally answer to your question.. ‘Who let Anderson go’? - Who else in this country can take a decision on such matters when a Gandhi is Prime Minister? That too Rajiv Gandhi? Of course. It was his decision.

The Government had to do all that what it did after the recent judgment. Otherwise it would be difficult for another Gandhi to become Prime Minister ever. That is why even Ottavio Quatrocchi was not brought into the country to face a trial..’

The moment Raja Thrivikram finished an astonished BethaL flew off his back to the top of the tree.