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Kanishka bombing: Canada to apologise, pay compensation

Though there was little in the Air India Kanishka report presented on Thursday for the families of the 329 victims, the Canadian government has said it will apologise to the families of victims of the 1985 bombing and pay further compensation to them.

india Updated: Jun 18, 2010 11:32 IST

Though there was little in the Air India Kanishka report presented on Thursday for the families of the 329 victims, the Canadian government said it will apologise to the families of victims of the 1985 bombing and pay further compensation to them.

The decision comes after the John Major Commission report earlier in on Thursday blasted the government and its various agencies for failing to stop the plot hatched by Khalistani elements seeking revenge for the 1984 army action at Amritsar's Golden Temple.

All 329 people aboard Kanishka flight 182 from Montreal to Delhi were killed when it was blown up in mid-air near the Irish coast June 23, 1985. Though the Canadian government has paid $20 million to the families in an out-of-court settlement with them, inquiry head John Major recommended a special fund to compensate the families further.

"The families, in some ways, have often been treated as adversaries, as if they had somehow brought calamity upon themselves. The time to right that historical wrong is now," the report said.

Reacting to the report, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his government will take steps to implement recommendations of the report. The prime minister, whose Conservative Party government ordered the probe, said, he hoped it will "bring closure to those who still grieve and to ensure that measures are taken to prevent such a tragedy in the future".

"We thank Commissioner Major for his work and once again extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends for the loved ones they lost. Our prayers are with them on this day," Harper added.

Releasing the 4,000-page report, John Major said: "This is a Canadian atrocity... the government needs to take responsibility to avoid further failure and to prevent a return to a culture of complacency."

The probe commission has recommended the setting up of an anti-terrorism centre to be called the Kanishka Centre.

Since rivalry between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) had led the plot to succeed and the accused to go scot free, Major recommended that a new Director of Terrorism Prosecutions co-ordinate such cases in future.

Since "a cascading series of errors contributed to the failure of our police and security forces to prevent this atrocity", the report said the new Director of Terrorism Prosecutions should "provide relevant legal advice to the Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams and to the RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service".

Though the spy agency (CSIS) had successfully traced and wire-taped the plot mastermind Talwinder Singh Parmar testing the bomb, it failed to give the tapes to the RCMP. In fact, it erased the tapes rather than hand them over to the RCMP to successfully prosecute the suspects.

The report says "CSIS should destroy such intelligence after 25 years or a period determined by parliament, but only if the director of CSIS certifies that it is no longer relevant."

The bombing mastermind Talwinder Singh Parmar, who fled to India, was killed in an encounter with the Punjab Police.

Only Inderjit Singh Reyat, who was released last year after spending 15 years in jail, was convicted for the Kanishka bombing blamed on Khalistani extremists seeking revenge for the Indian army action at the Golden Temple to flush out militants in 1984.

Two other suspects - Ajaib Singh Bagri and Ripudaman Singh Malik - were acquitted by the trial court in March 2005.