On August 12, 2015, Union Minister Sushma Swaraj roared in Parliament, right in front of Sonia Gandhi, who was visibly shaken and looked pale.
Swaraj thundered away asking the distraught mother-son duo who Adil Shahryar was and why he was exchanged for Warren Anderson, the main accused in the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. She asked what was the relationship between the Gandhi family and Adil Shahryar.
A blog was written prior to this uproar in the Parliament that traced the entire relationship that had seldom been written about by the media. The material had been around since 2010 and the media, playing Nero’s guests, looked away.
There was paltry little in the public domain about Adil Shahryar, and when the blog was written, I thought all the material that was to be discovered about Adil Shahryar and all the material that survived a family bent on destroying links, had surfaced. However, I was wrong.
With the Prime Minister raised the issue of Bhopal Gas Tragedy as one of the great Anyay (injustice) Congress has done to the people of India, the newfound information became relevant.
What was the Bhopal Gas Tragedy?
August 30, 1981 – Adil Shahryar was arrested in Miami, the US for Hotel Arson. On further inquiry, the Federal Authorities learnt that a shipping container belonging to him contained scrap paper and two explosives, and was meant to blow up the ship on which it was going to be loaded. Accordingly, he was prosecuted.
May 17, 1982 – Adil Shahryar was sentenced to 35 years in a federal Prison on five counts of militancy, by a Federal Judge.
June 1-8, 1984 – Indira Gandhi orders attack on Golden Temple, Amritsar.
November 1-4, 1984 – Congress organizes a genocidal attack against Sikh Community across India. 8000-17000 Sikhs Killed.
December 3, 1984 – Gas Leak at Union Carbide India Ltd. plant in Bhopal after water mixes with Methyl Isocyanate producing poisonous gas that killed 4000-16000 people living in the slums nearby.
December 7, 1984 – Union Carbide Corporation’s Charmain Warren Anderson visit Bhopal to take stock of the situation. He is detained by MP Police under instructions of CM Arjun Singh, who seemingly received information from then PM Rajiv Gandhi.
December 8, 1984 – He is sent to New Delhi in then MP CM Arjun Singh’s plane, to be released. According to CIA’s declassified Documents, he was released on express instructions of Rajiv Gandhi, after he discussed the matter with, possibly, US Embassy. He is said to have claimed that his people are too excited as the General Elections 1984-85 were around the corner.
December 24-28, 1984 – General Elections were held for the 8th Lok Sabha. Somewhere during its campaigning, Rajiv Gandhi justifies 1984 Sikh Genocide, less than 2 months after the killings, by saying infamously, “When a Big Tree falls, it’s natural that the ground beneath shakes.”
December 31, 1984 – Rajiv Gandhi is sworn-in as Prime Minister of India, after a resounding victory on the back of a sympathy wave following Indira Gandhi Assassination.
Undisclosed Date in 1985 – Warren Anderson meets India’s then Ambassador to US K Shankar Bajpai in Washington, to discuss financial settlements. Bajpai informs Anderson that “Govt of India had an open mind on the issue of a negotiated settlement”.
February 28, 1985 – Top Secret meeting is allegedly held between UCC’s Rolf H Towe, UCIL’s V P Gokhale & B B Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Chemicals & Fertilisers. Singh is informed about meeting with Ambassador Bajpai.
March 4, 1985 – UCC makes a formal proposal to the Govt of India for negotiated settlements, proposing a predetermined fixed sum of money to be paid to Govt of India. They use Indian Railways Act payment rate for accidental deaths as a guide.
March 29, 1985 – Rajiv Gandhi Govt passes Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster (processing of claims) Act, 1985. The law makes Govt of India the sole representative for all legal cases/financial claims
April 8, 1985 – Rajiv Gandhi Govt files lawsuit against Union Carbide Corporation & Warren Anderson, claiming a compensation of $3 Billion. There were 7 charges – 1) Multinational Enterprise Liability; 2) Absolute Liability; 3) Strict Liability; 4) Negligence; 5) Breach of Warranty; 6) Misrepresentation; and 7) Punitive Damages. Govt of India claimed that UCC provided Faulty Design, which allowed negligent connection of Water supply to enter MIC Tanks. The CSIR had not yet completed its study and ascertained this Design Fault accusation.
June 11, 1985 – Rajiv Gandhi visits the US. On the Occasion of his arrival, President Ronald Reagan issues Executive Pardon to Rajiv’s childhood family friend Adil Shahryar, without assigning any reason whatsoever, though he had been sentenced to 35 years in Federal Prison on 5 counts of Militancy and prosecution for the Arson in the Hotel in Miami was still pending.
December 1985 – CSIR headed by Dr S Varadarajan submitted its Report on Scientific Studies on the Factors related to Bhopal Toxic Gas Leakage.
May 12, 1986 – Judge John F Keenan of US District Court, Southern District of New York dismisses India’s plea for a trial in the US on the grounds of forum non-conveniens.
September 5, 1986 – Rajiv Gandhi Govt files a case against only Union Carbide Corporation in District Court of Bhopal. Union of India Vs. Union Carbide Corporation, Regular Suit No. 1113 of 1986
February 14, 1989 – Govt of India “settles” their $3 Billion claims against Union Carbide Corporation for a mere $470 million. Less than 1/6th the original claim.
Knowing Adil Shahryar and Mohammed Yunus
Paltry little is available on Adil Shahryar and Mohammed Yunus. Mohammed Yunus was the nephew of Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (The Frontier Gandhi) and came in contact with Indira Gandhi in 1944. As Indira Gandhi grew farther away from Feroze Ghandy, it is said that Indira Gandhi grew lonely and during this time Mohammed Yunus was a supportive friend, who Jawaharlal Nehru grew to like and at the time of Independence & partition, he asked Yunus to stay back in India. Yunus was married to Lajwanti Ralliaram, daughter of a then prominent Leader Rallia Ram, who was an early Punjabi Christian. Mohammed Yunus never had to regret his decision of staying back in India. In 1960, he was the Ambassador to Spain, then became Chairman of Trade Fair Authority of India etc. He was also in charge of the zealously guarded files on Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and is infamous for personally destroying many sensitive files pertaining to Netaji.
Their son Adil Shahryar, who was born in 1947 grew up with Rajiv Gandhi, who was born in 1944 and Sanjay Gandhi, who was born in 1946. So they were all nearly the same aged kids. Amitabh & Ajitabh Bachchan were also part of this group then.
As he grew, Adil Shahryar was known to have become a key member of Sanjay Gandhi’s political gang and was reported to have committed excesses on Govt Officials during the Emergency imposed by Indira Gandhi, from June 25, 1975, to March 21, 1977.
Thereafter, we hear about his arrest in the US in 1981, sentencing in 1982 and then exchange and an executive pardon in June 1985.
You may think he would have mended his ways, but in 1987-88 his name came in the infamous Fairfax Scandal, along with his father for offering a bribe and threatening the detectives who looked into Bofors.
While looking for all such information, I stumbled upon very sensitive information.
Exactly 5 years after his release from the US Federal Prison in June 1985, in June 1990, Adil Shahryar wrote for the Alumni Book of his Alma Mater American International School (AIS, New Delhi), on the occasion of a Reunion planned for July 9-11, 1990 at Lakeside Inn, Lake Tahoe, California, USA.
In the note, apart from reporting his progress after his schooling in AIS, he candidly describes his arrest in the US, the sentencing of 35years and later Executive Clemency by President Reagan. He also provided the copy of Executive Clemency issued to him, signed by President Reagan.
He then proceeds to declare, on Page 10, that he had established a certain Priyadarshini Institute and that his Company was worth $250 million. He also added that he was entering a Monumental Contract with TRON Association in Japan to develop software products scheduled for Worldwide Product launch in 1991.
It is intriguing that Adil Shahryar managed to make $250 Million in mere 5 years in pre-Liberalization, pre-Internet, pre-Mobile Phone Indian Economy. Teaching Computers to Indians in 1985?
And Priyadarshini Institute? Reminds me of Indira “Priyadarshini” Gandhi.
Contract with TRON Association to develop software products? Well, check for TRON Association today and see what turns up. Never mind that, but it reminded me of Rajiv Gandhi’s IT Dream.
But a “net-worth” of $250 Million was the real cake.
On 20th September 1982, Adil Shahryar applied for “Insolvency” in US Courts. He was in Federal Prison since at least May 1982. So, clearly, till his release on the basis of Executive Clemency on June 11, 1985, he had no other business or employment. Any business, like Computer Education through his firm Priyadarshini Institute may have been established only after his release, possibly in late 1985 or early 1986.
Aptech Ltd., a well-known Indian company that offers Computer Education too, was founded in 1986 as well. After running the company for 33years, today Aptech Ltd.’s Market Capitalisation stands at Rs.700 cr and it’s Networth (Total Assets minus Total Liabilities) stood at Rs. 243.98 cr at the end of March 2018.
Then how did Adil Shahryar get a net worth of $250mn between 1985 & 1990, mere 5 years? USD was worth Rs. 18.11 in 1990. So, it works out to Rs. 452 cr, adjusted for Time & Inflation, that is worth over Rs. 3500 cr in 2019.
After going through the fact that India demanded $3 Billion as compensation and then settled for $470 Million, 1/6th of the original demand, any thinking individual will wonder what made Rajiv Gandhi agree to a settlement at 1/6th the original claim. And then if you learn that some good-for-nothing kid, made a “net-worth” of $250 Million in pre-Liberalisation Indian Economy when there were no Mobile Phones, No Internet with a company that taught Computers to Indian kids, what is one to assume given his relationship with the first family of Indian politics?
The question that arises and one that must be investigated is why did the government of India settle their $3 Billion claims for a mere $470 million?
Adil Shahryar’s name has been buried and seldom uttered. Not by the political class and certainly not by the media who is more than willing to let the indiscretions of the first family slide under the rug. Adil Shahryar died at the page of 42 in 1990, one Month after disclosing his Networth in a Note to his Alma Mater.
One month after disclosing such sensitive figures, this 42 yrs old criminal was declared dead. He is said to have died of Hepatitis.