Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
Anger of the Country over Bhopal Chief Judicial Magistrate ending adjudication against a pack of the Union Carbide functionaries with the lightest possible punishment while making the same further shallow by grant of instant and the easiest bails to them, has already melted into helpless agony, as it is clear that the American agents in power will never allow justice to emerge.
I have reason to suspect that Bhopal was a case of testing of a mass-killing chemical weapon by an American company namely Union Carbide Corporation (UCC). But the case before the Bhopal CJM was not filed against the said company for this offense. To save the real culprits and to please the Americans and to cheat the Indians, the case instituted was designed to say that negligence of Indian collaborators of the American company had led to mass destruction as the poisonous gas suddenly gushed out could have done nothing but that. The result is as was expected.
Exactly as in the guise of improvement in energy sector, the Congress led Government of Manmohan Singh has pushed India into accepting American nuclear waste and reactors oblivious of how dangerous are they to masses of India, in the guise of improvement in agriculture sector, Union Carbide of USA was allowed to transport into and later produce extremely lethal and explosive Methyl Isocyanate (MIC) in its factory in the center of India at Bhopal of Madhya Pradesh to develop Sevin, a pesticide touted to kill pests in the crop fields. But, in reality, as we saw after the midnight of December 2, 1984, it killed thousands and maimed lakhs of Indians; because it was meant to test how far it may cause mass destruction when used as a chemical weapon. The roles of Arjun Singh, then Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh and Rajiv Gandhi, then the Prime Minister of India in the catena of this catastrophe are not yet unveiled; because, the pro-Americans having been in power since then, the Law has never been directed to this end.
These two Indian leaders had ensured that the arrest of Warren Anderson, chief of UCC by Bhopal Police after his arrival to estimate the impact of explosion, was ignored and he was safely transported back to USA. Anderson on reaching back on his soil had told the UCC board that for them there was nothing to worry; because, whosoever could protect their interest was in relevant positions in India. The light punishment awarded to the pack of Carbide personnel with Anderson staying beyond reach of the Court indicates that even the prosecution was not pursued in right earnest. No wonder, there was no prosecution against test of mass-killing chemical weapon on Indian masses in Bhopal and the culprits have not brought to books.
In a different context I had discussed this issue in my column in Orissa’s most celebrated daily broadsheet ‘Sambad’ in 1995. The same is available in my book ‘Singhabalokana’ (Bharata Bharati, Gajapati Nagar, Sutahat, Cuttack) for the public. That analysis has become more relevant now when instant bail was granted to whosoever of the pack of Bhopal culprits were adjudged abysmally guilty and with Arjun Singh signaling that he had worked under pressure from above to set free Anderson. As I look at the documents I had used therein, I am inclined to further stress that Bhopal catastrophe was not caused by accidental leak of MIC gas, but was caused by deliberate testing of MIC as a chemical war weapon.
Indicative Itself is Operation Faith
After helping Anderson fly back to USA, Arjun Singh had tried to convince the countrymen that the Carbide factory at Bhopal was absolutely safe and for the explosion, there was no fault with the factory or the Americans.
In what was named “Operation Faith” meant to say the world that India has faith in UCC, he declared to stay inside the factory and in fact stayed there when it reopened on December 16, 1984 on the 13th day of the killer leak.
In describing the day, under the caption ‘Clouds of Uncertainty’ in ‘Time’, in its December 24, 1984 edition, Peter Stolar, Dean Brelis and Pico Iyer had reported,
“The Union Carbide pesticide plant in the central Indian city of Bhopal looked as if it were being prepared for a war. All day long, giant Indian Air Force MI-8 helicopters swooped down into the area, while special Indian Army units trained in chemical warfare were airlifted to the local airport and positioned within the 72-acre compound”.
Were the government not sure of the chemical weapon aspect, “special Army units trained in chemical warfare” would not have been “airlifted” to the factory site, as the report says.
It is remarkable that during the so-called ‘Operation Faith’, Director General of CSIR Dr. S. Vardarajan with his team was to physically have a scientific estimation of the operation. But his absence was ensured by keeping him in dark about the date and time of the reopening of the factory and resume of its operation. Instead of the scientists of CSIR, a loyal group of UCC technicians conducted the so-called operation and declared that there was no fault with the factory, paving way for the Americans to say that the leak was caused not because of fault with the Americans but because of subterfuge or negligence by the Indian operators. Absence of Dr. Varadarajan and his team on Dec. 16, 1984 was not accidental. It was engineered to keep the Indian team away from the spot on that critical occasion, because that was needed to safeguard American interest.
Americans had deliberately created the condition to escape responsibility after the gas leak. They had deputed a team of chemical engineers from USA to be sure of the condition of the factory. The team in 1982 had reported, “The surroundings of the site is being strewn with oily old drums, used piping, pools of used oil and chemical waste that were likely to cause fire.” No remedial steps were taken, though, on the other hand, the last American working in the plant was called back by the mother plant in America. And Arjun Singh was used to promote slums near the factory so that innumerable poor Indians were available for use as guinea pigs for the test of the American chemical weapon. We will return to this.
The Congress Government in power seems to have collaborated with the American design for carrying out its nefarious program from the 1970s. In 1973, the year when India had to sign the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) instrument, it had to allow UCIL to sign a Design Transfer Agreement with UCC tactfully omitting the manufacturing process technology to use the same as a sure way to escape responsibility if the hidden agenda of the chemical / biological weapon testing in future really clicks.
Before that UCC had been sure of the lethal potency of MIC through its experience obtained from leak of the killer gas on 28 different occasions in its factory at W. Virginia. All these leaks were marginal and chemical weapons having high profit prospects, testing of MIC’s mass-killing capacity was requiring a massive leak. To UCC such a testing on American soil was not advantageous. Hence, Bhopal was chosen.
Bhopal experienced the killing capability of the gas as and when the conspirators so desired.
In 1981 December, plant operator Md. Asruff breathed his last and two other workmen were seriously affected under impact of a minor leakage. In 1982, comparatively more volume of MIC was released which not only severely affected four of the workers inside the factory, but also affected slum dwellers outside the factory that complained of profuse burning of eyes, suffocation and motor disorder. It was, as circumstantial sequences lead me apprehend, a deliberate act to study as to how much gas leakage for how long time may affect the people outside the factory.
These were small leakages resulting in marginal casualties. But every leakage was causing harm.
Whosoever of the workers of the factory raised the issue of safety was intimidated and victimized even as the Factory Laws Implementation Authorities of MP were kept away from enforcing safety measures.
The Communist Party in the MP Assembly raised the issue and stressed on shifting the factory off the heart of the city. Arjun Singh through his Labor Minister T.S.Viyogi rejected the Communist plea and asserted that the factory was not a stone to throw away from its site. There was no reason to panic as to him the factory was absolutely safe. “Neither now nor ever there is any threat to human life from the factory”, he had asserted.
Journalist R. Keswani brought series of articles and exposed the falsity of the government’s assertions. He along with his family was tortured by the government.
Even though a three member team of industrial safety experts deputed by the UCC to assess the safety aspect of the Bhopal plant had not hesitated to mention in their report that the “surroundings of the site was being strewn with oily old drums, used piping, pools of used oil and chemical waste that were likely to cause fire”, the factory inspectorate of MP was not allowed to intervene and enforce safety measures.
“The day is not far off when Bhopal will be a dead city, when only scattered stones and debris will bear witness to its tragic end”, warned the media.
Arjun Singh did not bother. On the other hand, as hinted to above, he encouraged poor people to freely built up slum huts around the factory so that MIC may be tested as a chemical weapon on maximum numbers of people.
Chemical Weapon Conclave and Thereafter
At the beginning of 1984, the UCC factory at Bhopal had hosted a seminar on “chemical and biological war research”. As the Press Trust of India had then reported, many western giants engaged in chemical weapon development had participated in that seminar.
Arjun Singh as the Chief Minister was the patron of that conclave.
Immediately thereafter, he had jumped up to provide every available inch of land to whosoever wanted to have a habitation in close proximity to the carbide factory.
A new law called “Madhya Pradesh Nagariya Kshetrake Bhumihin Byakti Adhiniyam, 1984” (Act 15 of 1984) was framed and enforced with effect from 17 May 1984 wherein stipulations were made to punish with imprisonment whosoever officer hinders landless people setting up their jhuggis (slum huts) near the factory. Anybody having had his / her jhuggis since 1983 must not be evicted, the new law stressed. After this law was enforced, there was a mad rush amongst the people to set up their slum huts in the factory’s nearest proximity. The then Chief of MP Development Authority, M.N.Buch had to later write,
“After this act was passed, people would put up shacks during their lunch breaks. If you can imagine, 35,000 jhuggis came up during this time. I had cleared the upper lake area because it is an important source of drinking water. He allowed 8,000 jhuggis to be built around the upper lake area alone!”
These fellows, encouraged thus to settle around the factory in dense concentration were used as guinea pigs when MIC was discharged after the midnight of December 2, 1984 to test how devastating was it when used as a chemical weapon.
The killer company was in need of poor people to test the gas on them, as, thereby, when wanted to compensate, a much smaller amount of money would suffice. Arjun Singh had ensured this.
After the midnight, when people were asleep, the killer gas was discharged. The killer gas was deliberately discharged after the midnight so that the targeted people cannot escape. Even for two long hours the warning siren was kept inoperative because of which people could not know of the spreading danger. To facilitate a secret study on impact of the killer gas, steps were taken to keep the victims away from antidotes. As for example, Bhopal doctors were denied any information from UCC that they could have used to save life. As massive numbers of people were dying, Doctors conducted autopsy tests to know the reason of deaths and determined that cyanide poisoning was the reason. So toxicologists of Hamidia Hospital insisted that sodium thiosulphate should be administered as antidote. But the UCC authorities from America rejected the Hamidia hospital proposal by saying that there was no question of cyanide poisoning and hence administration of sodium thiosulphate cannot be permitted. 10,000 persons died within 72 hours and at least 25 lakhs were subjected to slow death.
The Americans were sure that the test had succeeded. It is not possible to accept that Anderson had come to India after four days of the gas discharge to pay sympathy to the victims. He had come to see the success of his secret plan and when Bhopal police arrested him, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi or somebody most close to him to whom Arjun Singh was like a factotum, ensured that he was forthwith freed from the police clutch and sent back to USA.
Arjun Singh has declared that he had to carry out an order from above to free Anderson and to provide him with a state Plane to escape. He must be made to disclose forthwith the name of this traitor.
N.K.Singh in a 7th June 2010 report in Hindustan Times says that a mysterious phone call to Arjun Singh had “secured the sudden release of Warren Anderson”.
And, he says, “Who made that phone call is one of the biggest mysteries surrounding the Bhopal gas tragedy.”
UPA President Sonia should now ensure that Arjun Singh, the man who prides himself as a factotum of her family, discloses the name of the person under whose telephonic orders he had forced the State police to release Anderson soon after his arrest. Otherwise the needle of suspicion would continue to point at her husband and / or herself.
The group of Ministers constituted when mass reaction to the farcical punishment awarded to the pack of seven functionaries of UC emitted alarm waves into the central administration, has tried to hoodwink the nation with a compensation package for the victims and braggadocios about bringing Anderson into trial in India. But in it, perhaps lies the real motive of the American stooges in power in this country to bury for ever the possibility of prosecution against Arjun Singh alive and Rajiv Gandhi posthumously for having collaborated with Anderson in testing the American Chemical Weapon on Indian masses at Bhopal in that post mid-night of December 2,1984.
The truth is yet to prevail. But circumstantial evidences insist that Bhopal was a testing of chemical weapon, not the case adjudicated upon.