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Canada to begin Kanishka probe tomorrow

The fresh probe was announced by the PM after consulting the victims' families, following the acquittal of two accused last year. The fateful day in 1985: A flashback

india Updated: Jun 20, 2006 14:33 IST

A judicial inquiry into the 1985 Air-India bombing would begin on Wednesday in Canada's Ottawa, bringing to an end the long-awaited demand of the families of over 331 victims.

The inquiry would open with a brief statement by its head, retired Supreme Court Justice John Major, outlining the terms of reference.

Close to 80 relatives of the victims are expected to be present at the probe.

The judge has held meetings across the country with victims' families, who have lobbied for a pubic inquiry for 20 years.

The judicial inquiry was announced by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on May 1, after consulting some 331 families of victims, in the wake of the acquittal of two accused -- Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri -- in March last year of all charges related to the bombings after 19 months of trial.

The inquiry will have done its job if it makes victims' families -- many of whom immigrated to Canada from India -- feel like real Canadians, Major said.

In an interview last week, he said he is looking forward to help resolve outstanding questions about the unprecedented terrorist attack that was plotted and hatched in BC And left 331 people dead.

The Canadian security agencies (RCMP and CSIS), and department of Transport have expressed their willingness to co-operate fully, he said.

Justice Major said, "If the Commission can give the victims' families a sense that they are really Canadians despite the colour of their skin, and that mistakes were made but would not (not) be made a second time, most of them {from what they have said {would feel that something have been accomplished."

He said the simple act of then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney sending a letter of condolence to his Indian counterpart Rajiv Gandhi after the bombings paid family members, who were almost entirely Canadians or living in Canada.

"They are owed some form of explanation for a letter of condolence going to India," he said.