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Kanishka bombing: Victims' kin rise from ashes with nerves of steel

Gurpreet Singh's book, based on accounts of victims' families, pieces together inspirational stories of courage in face of personal tragedy.

chandigarh Updated: Jun 27, 2012 10:31 IST
Sanjam Preet Singh
Sanjam Preet Singh
Hindustan Times

Indira had boarded the Air India flight 182 on June 23, 1985 to visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Little did she know that the fallout of militancy in Punjab would clip the wings of her dreams and snuff out her life. The aircraft, Kanishka, was bombed by militants, killing all 329 passengers on board.

The agonising accounts of Indira's father and families of other victims is the theme of the book, "Fighting hatred with love: Voices of Air India victims' families" written by Gurpreet Singh, newscaster and talk show host with Radio India in Vancouver, Canada. The book contains 16 articles.

Based on interviews with victims' families, Gurpreet has pieced together inspirational stories of courage in the face of personal tragedy. Several families have forgiven the perpetrators of the attack and moved on to become philanthropists to change the course of others' lives.

Indira's father, along with the families of two other victims, set up an educational trust to give scholarships to needy students in Bantry, Ireland. Likewise, Chandrasekhar Sankurathri, whose wife and daughter were among the dead, is currently running a foundation in India to help the needy.

For Major Singh Sidhu, who lost his sister, niece and nephew, the incident proved a turning point as he resolved to oust the fundamentalists, believed to be behind the bombing, from the Ross Street Temple in Vancouver.

Gurpreet has effectively narrated such accounts to question the Canadian court's decision to acquit Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri of charges of conspiring in the mass murders.

"One of the victims believes that the outcome of the investigation would have been different if the victims were Anglo-Saxons," writes Gurpreet, questioning the religious practice of Malik, Bagri and convict Inderjit Singh Reyat, whose daily prayer ends with the line "Tere bhane sarbat da bhala" (May all people prosper by thy grace).

First Published: Jun 23, 2012 11:49 IST