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Testimony of Kanishka victims continues

A SC judge hears the testimony of a woman on the second day of a public inquiry into the 1985 bombing.

india Updated: Sep 27, 2006 12:59 IST

A retired Supreme Court judge heard the emotional testimony of a woman on the second day of a public inquiry into the 1985 bombing of an Air India Boeing 747 that exploded off the Irish coast killing all 329 people on board.

It took 20 years-and a narrow escape from yet another potential tragedy-for Jayashree Thampi to come to terms with the Air India bombing.

Thampi, who lost her husband Lakshmanan and seven-year-old daughter Preethi in the 1985 terrorist attack, recounted how the enormity of it overwhelmed her at the time.

"I closed my mind to the crash, I concentrated on my work at the Bank of Montreal," she told the inquiry on Tuesday.

"I pretended it did not happen to me. In all those years I never cried for my daughter." The tears didn't come until last August-after Thampi had watched in horror at Toronto's Pearson Airport as an Air France plane carrying her son Vivek skidded off a runway and burst into flames. This time the ending was a happy one, as Vivek emerged safely into his mother's embrace.

"Nobody understood why I was crying, because my son was safe," Thampi told a hushed hearing room in a trembling voice. "They didn't know I wasn't crying for the son who made it, but for the daughter who didn't. For the first time in 20 years I mourned the death of my daughter and cried for her."

Thampi is one of dozens of family members who have told-or will tell-their story to the inquiry headed by former Supreme Court judge John Major, in Ottawa on Tuesday belatedly mandated by the Conservative government to probe the June 1985 downing of Air India Flight 182 that took 329 lives.