US Rejects Reopening Of Bhopal Carbide Case

As the Bhopal gas tragedy verdict is widely criticised as a mockery of justice, the United States has rejected any possibility of re-opening the Union Carbide case.Speaking at a press briefing in Washington, US Assistant
us rejects reopening of bhopal carbide case -...
PTI June 08, 2010 12:41 IST

As the Bhopal gas tragedy verdict is widely criticised as a mockery of justice, the United States has rejected any possibility of re-opening the Union Carbide case.

Speaking at a press briefing in Washington, US Assistant Secretary of State Robert Blake said, "I don't expect this verdict to reopen any new inquiries or anything like that. On the contrary, we hope that this is going to help to bring closure to the victims and their families."

On Monday, after over 25 years, eight people were convicted for the world's worst industrial disaster and sentenced to two years in prison. About 20,000 people were killed in the Bhopal Gas tragedy of December 2-3, 1984. All those convicted, however, got bail the same day itself.

Those convicted in the case include Mahindra & Mahindra chief and former Union Carbide of India Chairman Keshub Mahindra.  However, there was no word on Warren Anderson, the then Chairman of Union Carbide Corporation of the US, who was declared an absconder after he did not subject himself to trial in the case that began 23 years ago.  The former executive lives in suburban New York.

Meanwhile, speaking on the Bhopal verdict, State Department spokesperson Philip Crowley said, "It was a terrible tragedy, one of the worst industrial accidents in human history. We would hope that this particular case does not inhibit expansion of economic, cultural, and political ties between our two countries. The Indian Parliament will have to make judgment on the nuclear liabilities bill, but this case...criminal case...should have no relation to the liability legislation currently before Parliament."

Linking the court verdict in the case with the nuclear liability bill, BJP on Monday made a strong plea to the government to reconsider the draft legislation contending that it "shielded" private suppliers.

Noting that discussions were underway on the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damages Bill, BJP spokesman Ravi Shankar Prasad said "the government should learn proper lessons from Bhopal gas tragedy. The bill, as envisaged, puts any criminal liability only on the nuclear operator."

"We urge the government not to rush with the crucial legislation. In light of bitter experience of Bhopal, the government should reconsider the nuclear bill seriously," he said.

The US on Tuesday  hoped the Bhopal gas tragedy case will not "inhibit" its expanding ties with India and that the court verdict will bring "closure" to the families of the victims and rejected opening of new inquiries.

The Obama Administration also hoped the Bhopal court verdict in the world's worst industrial disaster will not affect the Indian civil nuclear liability bill.

The nuclear bill, which is facing opposition in India, is currently before Parliament.

The American reactions by two senior officials came amid outrage by civil rights activists over the US parent company Union Carbide escaping criminal liability and its chairman Warren Anderson being allowed to go scot free in connection with the 1984 gas disaster in which over 15,000 people died.

Blake hoped the verdict will not lead to opening of new inquiries into the role of Union Carbide in the disaster.

"But I don't expect this verdict to reopen any new, you know, inquiries or anything like that.

On the contrary, we hope that this is going to help to bring closure," Blake told foreign reporters in response to a question.

Responding to a specific question on the Bhopal gas tragedy and the court's decisions, Blake said this is an internal matter of India.

To a similar question at another news briefing, the State Department spokesman, P J Crowley said: "This tragedy happened 26 years ago, and it was a terrible tragedy, one of the worst industrial accidents in human history, and we certainly hope that the verdict brings some closure to the families of the victims of this tragedy."

Crowley hoped that this particular case "does not inhibit - or the continuing expansion of economic, cultural, and political ties between the two countries." PTI

 
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