The Indian Overseas Congress in the US has urged the Indian government to confer the Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian honour, on the Air India Kanishka inquiry head for the far-reaching recommendations in his report. Former Canadian Chief Justice, John Major, who headed the public inquiry into the lapses that led to the bombing of the Kanishka flight 25 years ago -- which killed all 329 passengers on board -- recommended a major overhaul of Canadian security to avoid such tragedies in the future.
In a letter to President Pratibha Patil, the Indian Overseas Congress' California chapter, where 16 of the Air India bombing victim families now live, has sought the Indian civilian award for the Canadian judge for submitting a report sympathetic to the victim families. "After twenty-five years of tears, Justice John Major has delivered the Air India inquiry report. Reading through it shows that he showed exemplary courage and compassion (for the victims) of the worst-ever 'NRI-Air India Holocaust' of the (last) century,'' the letter to the Indian President says. "We request you on behalf of the families of the innocent 'NRI martyrs' to recommend Justice John Major of Canada for the Padma Shri, 2011.''
Vikram Bajwa of the California chapter of the Indian Overseas Congress told IANS, "We have also got in touch with Justice John Major to thank him for his work and seek his consent for recommending his name for the Indian civilian award.'' He said, "We are also writing to Congress President, Sonia Gandhi for including Justice John Major in the list of the Padma Shree recipients for 2011.''
In his inquiry report submitted in June this year, Justice John Major has also recommended an ex gratia payment to the victim families. Though the Canadian government has accepted many of its recommendations, it says it is still negotiating the ex-gratia payment to the victims families.
The Kanishka Flight 182 from Toronto to Delhi was blown off near the Irish coast on June 23, 1985, by a bomb planted by Sikh extremists to avenge the Indian Army action at the Golden Temple to flush out militants led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.