A former director of aviation at Bhopal and a pilot have both claimed that the Madhya Pradesh chief minister’s office had instructed them to fly former Union Carbide chairman Warren Anderson to Delhi after the Bhopal gas tragedy.
‘We got a call from the chief minister’s office and were asked to arrange a flight,’ former director of aviation, Bhopal, R.S. Sodhi told television channel NDTV. Senior congress leader Arjun Singh was then Madhya Pradesh chief minister.
Sodhi remembered that two cars stopped in front of the aircraft parked at Bhopal airport. ‘The first car was carrying the superintendent of police and the second one had Warren Anderson and Moti Singh (then district collector),’ he said.
‘Anderson boarded the plane and we took off,’ Sodhi said.
A video broadcast by CNN-IBN Thursday and filmed by a French television team Dec 7, 1984 shows a blue Ambassador car with a red beacon going through the airport gates and running on the tarmac. The car, said the channel, belonged to the then district collector and also had Anderson inside.
The pilot who flew the plane has also come forward to talk about the events of that December afternoon. ‘We waited for Anderson and he came with the superintendent of police and the collector. He got down from the car and we asked him to get in the aircraft… he boarded the plane and I closed the door,’ reminisced Captain S.H. Ali.
One hour before reaching Delhi airport, he asked the airport manager to send a car for a VIP, which should be ready once the plane landed. ‘I took him in the car and dropped him outside the airport manager’s room and there was one car waiting for him… that person came and asked him to board the car and he left,’ said the former pilot.
He remembered that Anderson was ‘looking tired and upset’, but at the time, he was not aware of the identity of his passenger.
But, he was clear that the instructions came from the chief minister’s office. ‘This (order) came from our captain, Sodhi. He was our director – he gets the information from the chief minister or chief minister’s staff or secretary to the chief minister,’ said Captain Ali