Ottawa: To mark the 26th anniversary of the Air India bombing Thursday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper unveiled a new memorial to the 329 victims and announced a project after the ill-fated plane Kanishka to fight terrorism.
the project which is to be called the Kanishka Project, will form the crux of Canada`s new strategy to fight terrorism.
The Kanishka (flight 182 from Montreal to Delhi) was blown off near Ireland June 23, 1985, killing all 329 people on board. Within an hour that day, another bomb meant for another Air India flight went off at Tokyo`s Narita airport, killing two baggage handlers. Both the bombs were planted by Khalistani extremists to avenge the India army action at the Golden Temple in 1984.
Since the Canadian Prime Minister had announced June 23 as `National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism` in 2006 soon after taking office, Harper said Canada marks "the seventh annual National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism by launching the Kanishka Project and unveiling the fourth and final memorial for the victims of the Air India Flight 182 atrocity, which occurred 26 years ago today.``
Unveiling the memorial at Lachine on the Island of Montreal, the prime minister said, "On this day, we pause to remember those who have lost their lives due to acts of terrorism, both here in Canada and around the world.”
"On June 23, 1985, Canadians experienced the worst terrorist attack in our history when a bomb on Air India Flight 182 killed all 329 passengers and crew members aboard, most of them Canadian.`` He said.
Canadian Public safety minister Vic Toews and many families of the Kanishka victims joined the prime minister in paying respects to those who perished in the biggest aviation tragedy till 9/11 happened.
Through the Kanishka Project, funding will be provided for a range of initiatives, including conferences, publications and major research projects, to build the knowledge base to effectively counter terrorism, the prime minister said.
"The memory of the victims and the pain of their families strengthen our resolve to fight criminals and terrorists at home and abroad,`` he said.
Canadian opposition leader Jack Layton also joined in paying respects to the Kanishka victims.
Layton said, "The families of the 331 innocent victims have endured pain that is beyond words. Through more than two decades of stonewalling by the government, the families of the victims of one of the worst acts of terrorism in our country`s history have shown tremendous strength, courage and patience.
"I urge all Canadians to take a moment today to reflect on one of Canada`s most horrendous acts of violence, and join the families in support and solidarity, as they continue to mourn the loss of their loved ones.``
With Thursday`s unveiling of a new memorial, Canada now has four memorials - in Ottawa, Lachine, Toronto and Vancouver - to the Kanishka tragedy.
Respects to the victims were also paid in Toronto and Vancouver.