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Bhopal gas tragedy: 36 years later, convicts still out on bail

10:33 PM Dec 02, 2020 | Staff Reporter

BHOPAL: Even 36 years after the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, despite conviction, all the accused are still at large and moving freely. It is the biggest agony for the 5-lakh-strong gas victims of the state capital on the 36th anniversary of the Bhopal Gas Tragedy, which had occurred on December 2-3, 1984.

On June 7, 2010, 26 years after the world’s worst industrial disaster that had left over 15,000 people dead, a trial court had convicted all the seven accused in the case and awarded them a maximum of two years’ imprisonment.

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Two cases are still pending in the court of the district judge at the district and sessions court. In the first, all the seven accused had appealed against the punishment awarded by the lower CJM court. In the second case, the state government had filed for enhancement of punishment.

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Chief judicial magistrate Mohan Tiwari had sentenced the then non-executive UCIL chairman, Keshub Mahindra, managing director, Vijay Gokhale, vice-president, Kishore Kamdar, works manager, J Mukund, production manager, SP Choudhary, plant superintendent, KV Shetty, and production assistant, SI Qureshi, in the case relating to the leakage of methyl isocyanate gas on the night of December 2-3, 1984. They were awarded a maximum of two years in prison. An eighth accused died during the trial.

UCC chief went scot-free

The 89-year-old Warren Anderson, the then Chairman of Union Carbide Corporation of the USA, who lived in the United States, went scot-free. Now, he is dead, but never subjected himself to trial. The quantum of punishment given to the accused, as well as Anderson escaping the judicial process, had raised an outcry in the country.

‘Pathetic condition’

‘It’s a pathetic condition that, even after 36 years, all the accused are still unpunished. Anderson died without appearing in the trial court. Even the Madhya Pradesh government, which had assured in 2010 — when an enhancement of punishment was appealed for — the constitution of a fast-track court, is still mum on the speedy disposal of cases. The CBI, too, seems to be least interested in the case’

— Rachna Dhingra of the Bhopal Group for Information and Action

‘Day-to-day hearing’

‘The Madhya Pradesh government had assured at the time of the CJM court judgment the constitution of a fast-track court. We’ve demanded day-to-day hearing for speeding up the disposal of cases’

— Advocate Sanjay Gupta, former member, task force, Bhopal Gas Tragedy

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