New Delhi, June 24: Canada marked the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism on 23 June to remember the victims of 1985 Air India bombing.
As many as 329 people were on board the Air India Kanishka Flight 182 that was blown off mid-air on June 23, 1985. The plane going to London after picking up passengers from Toronto and Montréal disappeared from radar off the Ireland coast. The bomb was planted on the plane in Canada.
Paying tributes to the victims, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “The Air India bombing was the single worst terrorist attack in our country’s history.”
“Today, we remember its victims & every Canadian whose life has been taken or forever changed by a terrorist attack,” he tweeted.
In a detailed statement, Trudeau said, “On this day in 1985, Canadians awoke to news that defied belief, and left our country in a state of shock and suffering.”
He added: “This horrific act of malice and destruction left families and friends grieving the loss of loved ones, and brought pain that will never completely go away.”
Of the 329 people who died, 280 were Canadians.
Referring to the recent terror attacks in Canada, Trudeau said: “Today, we remember every Canadian whose life has been cut short or forever changed by a terrorist act. We hold in our thoughts the 2 Canadians killed by a terrorist attack in Ouagadougou, and the Canadian who lost his life in the Barcelona van attack. Our hearts also go out to those closer to home, including the police officer and many others injured in last September’s attack in Edmonton, and the 6 worshippers killed during the shooting at the Centre culturel islamique de Québec.”
He added: “On behalf of the Government of Canada, I extend my condolences to everyone everywhere who has lost loved ones to terrorism. We also thank and honour those who work each day to keep our citizens, communities, and country safe.”
British Columbia too marked the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism on Saturday. Premier John Horgan paid tributes the Air India victims and flags at the Parliament Buildings in Victoria flew half-mast.
“Canadians will never forget this act of terror that took the lives of 329 people, including 280 Canadians. Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the victims,” Horgan said in a statement.
A large number of people turned up at the annual memorial service in Vancouver on Saturday evening where Air India victims were remembered.
A book, A Ray of Hope, written by former federal government scientist Chandra Sankurathri, who lost his wife, son, and daughter on the Air India flight, will be released on Sunday.
“I am thankful to God for giving me a goal to achieve at a time when I might have turned to despair or rage,” Sankurathri has written in his book.
After the incident, Sankurathri had founded a charity that now runs a free hospital and school in his wife’s hometown in India.
In his statement, Canadian Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan said: “As we acknowledge the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism, we honour all victims of terrorism. Tonight, I joined family & friends of the victims of the Air India bombing to remember those who were lost during one of the worst tragedies in Canada’s history.”
According to the inquiry conducted in to the act of terror, 2 bomb-carrying suitcases were loaded by pro-Khalistani militants at Vancouver airport, to be transferred to Air India flights at Toronto and Tokyo airports.
While the bomb planted on Air India Flight 182 in Toronto exploded mid-air, the other bomb went off at Narita airport in Tokyo when it was being transferred to an Air India flight bound for Mumbai. Two baggage handlers died in the explosion.
Inderjit Singh Reyat was the only person who was convicted in connection with the twin bombing.