Harper promises action; families say closure can never come

Canadian PM Stephen Harper has promised to respond positively to the damning report into the 1985 Kanishka bombing, specifically on the call for compensation.

Updated: Jun 18, 2010, 15:52 PM IST

Toronto: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised to respond positively to the damning report into the 1985 Kanishka bombing, specifically on the call for compensation, as the families torn apart by the tragedy said the word `closure` still haunts them.

The final report into the Air India tragedy that killed 329 people recommended ex-gratia payment to families of victims, mostly of Indian-origin, and blamed government for
its failure to prevent the country`s worst terrorist attack. Soon after the report`s release, Harper met the families and termed the document a "damning indictment of many
things that occurred before and after the tragedy".

"Our government launched this inquiry to bring closure to those who still grieve and to ensure that measures are taken to prevent such a tragedy in the future.

"We thank commissioner Major for his work and once again extend our deepest sympathies to the families and friends for the loved ones they lost," he said.

The four-year inquiry calls for a powerful national security czar with direct access to the PM to sort out disputes between the police and Canada`s spy agency – an ongoing turf war that it said continues to this day.

"For too long the greatest loss of Canadian lives at the hands of terrorists has somehow been relegated outside the Canadian consciousness," Justice John Major, who led the
committee, said as he announced his findings. The report recommended appropriate compensation for the families.

"The families in some ways have often been treated as adversaries, as if they had somehow brought this calamity upon themselves," he said.

The report elicited a positive response from families, who said they were relieved that most of their concerns were addressed but maintained that "closure" was a far-fetched

"I think closure is a word that continues to haunt us," Lata Pada, who lost her teen-aged daughters and husband in the bombings, said.
"We can never have closure from a tragedy of this enormous devastation. What we can have is the satisfaction that we`ve come to a point where an inquiry has actually
happened and an extensive report with recommendations has actually become a reality," she was quoted as saying by the CBC news.
Speaking to reporters in Ottawa, family members said the inquiry into federal mismanagement of the probe answers many of their concerns and confirms it was not an accident.

Bureau Report