Prayers and candle light vigil mark 30 years of the Air India tragedy

  • Gurpreet Singh Gurpreet Singh, Hindustan Times, Vancouver
  • Updated: Jun 24, 2015 21:11 IST

The 331 victims of the Air India bombings were remembered on the 30th anniversary of the tragedy at the Stanley Park here on Tuesday evening.

The victims' families and their supporters gathered at the Air India memorial bearing the names of the people who died in the incident that occurred on June 23, 1985. The Air India Flight 182 was bombed mid air, killing all 329 people aboard above the Irish Sea, while another blast at the Narita Airport had claimed the lives of two baggage handlers.

The blasts were believed to be caused by the Sikh separatists seeking revenge for the Operation Bluestar conducted by the army at the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar in 1984.

Wednesday’s event was opened with a traditional indigenous song by Cecilia Point from the Musqueam Indian band and followed by Sikh and Irish prayers. The members of the victims' families also spoke at the event and were unanimous in their demand for full justice. So far, only one person has been convicted for the crime.

Among those who spoke were Perviz Madon who lost her husband and Gurdial Sihdu whose sister-in-law and her two children had died in the incident. A message from Renee Sarojin Saklikar, a prominent poet, was read out at the event. Saklikar's aunt and uncle were also aboard the Flight 182. She has authored Children of Air India, a collection of poems dedicated to the Air India victims. She is away to Ireland to attend the main event being held there in commemoration of the bombings. Surjit Kalsi who lost his sister and the relatives of an Air India victim Shingara Singh Cheema were also in attendance.

The names of all 331 victims were also read out on the occasion as a tribute to the departed souls. Later, a moment of silence was also observed followed by a candle light vigil.

Those present included Overseas Friends of the Bharatiya Janata Party leader Aditya Kumar Tewatia, local Conservative Party leaders James Moore, Dave Hayer and Mani Falon and the deputy counsel general Amarjit Singh.

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