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Canadian police 'failed to act' on Air India warning

Air India's head office in Mumbai had intimated the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on June one, 1985 about the impending disaster.

world Updated: May 03, 2007 01:32 IST

Canadian security agencies had failed to act on Air India's warning that Sikh extremists could try to blow up a plane using a time-bomb, just three weeks before the attack on Kanishka airliner that killed 329 people, mostly of Indian origin, on June 23, 1985.

In a startling revelation, documents tabled before a public inquiry on Tuesday showed that Air India's head office in Mumbai advised the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on June one, 1985 that it feared Sikh extremists could try to blow up a plane using a time-bomb planted in checked baggage.

As a result, the RCMP asked the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) for an updated threat assessment but failed to pass on to the spy service the new warning just received from Air India.

The CSIS responded that although the general danger to all Indian government institutions was high, there was no evidence of a "specific threat" to the state airline.

The latest information comes in the backdrop of complaints that a turf war between the RCMP and CSIS has hindered anti-terrorist efforts through the 1980s. And this was not the only example of a communications breakdown to surface at the inquiry.

The probe headed by former Supreme Court judge John Major that is examining the events surrounding the 1985 attack was told that Vancouver police had access to secretly taped conversations between members of Sikh militant group International Sikh Youth Federation 11 days before the bombing which indicated they were planning "serious" action but did not realise the usefulness of the information.