Mr. Anderson had been in hiding for ten years when Greenpeace, and before that a British newspaper, tracked him down. Mr. Harell would remark after the meeting: “If a team of journalists and Greenpeace managed to track down India’s most wanted man in a matter of days, how seriously have the U.S. authorities tried to find him in all these years? The U.S. has reacted swiftly on curbing the financial corporate crimes of Enron and WorldCom, but has clearly not made much of an effort to find Anderson, responsible for the deaths of 20,000 people in India.”
The searing comment underscored the dubious role played by the world’s most powerful democracy in protecting the key perpetrator of the world’s worst industrial disaster. Seventeen years after he was proclaimed an “absconder”, Mr. Anderson, now 88, continues to elude the long reach of the law. However, it is not just that the wheels of justice showed no inclination to move in the U.S. The Indian government has been no less lethargic in bringing Mr. Anderson to justice. It sent out a formal request for his extradition in May 2003, close to two decades after the crime. As Bhopal activist Nityanand Jayaraman would tell The Hindu on the 25th anniversary of the gas leak: “In the case of Anderson, the [Indian] government’s heart is just not on the job.”
Indeed, the Bhopal saga is a painful reminder of the unconscionable way justice plays out for the poor in this country — with victims fighting a battle so long and hard that justice has little meaning when it finally arrives.