M A I N   N E W S

Canada govt blamed for Kanishka crash

Toronto, June 17
A long-awaited inquiry into the 1985 Air India Kanishka bombing, which killed 329 persons, mostly of Indian origin, today blamed the Canadian government for its failure to prevent the tragedy and recommended the appointment of a powerful security czar to resolve disputes between conflicting interests among security agencies.

A member of the Air India Victims’ Families Association wipes her tears as she talks to mediapersons after a meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Ottawa, Canada, on Thursday. — AP/PTI

“The government needs to take responsibility to avoid further failure and to prevent a return to a culture of complacency,” Justice John Major, the head of the Kanishka bombing inquiry commission, recommended today, nearly 25 years after Canada's worst terrorist attack.

Canada's national security adviser should be given sweeping new powers to resolve disputes between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Canadian Security and Intelligence Services (CSIS), Justice Major told a live press conference in Ottawa.

In the much-awaited final report from the commission that investigated the bombing of Air India Flight 182 on June 23, 1985, he observed that the national security continues to be badly organised between the RCMP and Canada's spy agency. He also recommended radical transformation in prosecution.

The national security adviser, who currently provides advice to the prime minister on security and intelligence issues, should also be the final arbiter where the two agencies disagree, Major said.

Major, in his 3,200 pages report, said it is the federal government’s responsibility to see it doesn’t happen again.

“This is a Canadian atrocity,” said Major, who spent four years going through tens of thousands of documents and hearing more than 200 witnesses before completing the report into the bombing.

Meanwhile, Candian Prime Minister Stephen Harper today assured the family members of the victims of the 1984 Air India Kanishka bombing that the government would respond “positively” to the recommendations made by an inquiry committee and said compensation would be offered to all.

“This was the largest mass-murder in Canadian history,” said Major. He underlined that the “finest tribute” that could be paid to the victims of the bombing is to create a rigorous aviation security system.

“This will require co-operation and resources - but, most importantly, leadership from the highest level of government. Canada owes this legacy to the victims and their families,” he said. The report was not expected to provide much answers to the queries of families and relatives as to who was responsible for the attack.

Years of criminal investigation have yielded just one conviction, for manslaughter, against a British Columbia mechanic Inderjit Singh Reyat who assembled bomb components. — PTI

the long trial 

Nov 8, 1985: Talwinder Singh Parmar and Inderjit Singh Reyat held by Canadian police in connection with bombings. Charges dropped against Parmar. Reyat is fined for a minor, unrelated charge.

Jan 22, 1986: Aviation Safety Board concludes a bomb brought down the jet.

Feb 1988: Reyat is arrested by police in Coventry, England, where he moved with his wife and children in 1986.

Oct 27, 2000: Ajaib Singh Bagri and Ripudaman Singh Malik arrested and charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and conspiracy.

Mar 16, 2005: British Columbia SC Justice Ian Josephson acquits Malik and Bagri, saying he found the main witnesses in the case not credible. — PTI




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