Kanishka: Canada to apologise, pay compensation

A long-awaited inquiry into the 1985 bombing, which killed 329 people mostly of Indian origin, blamed the Canadian govt for its failure to prevent the tragedy.

Last Updated: Jun 18, 2010, 10:14 AM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Toronto: A long-awaited inquiry into the 1985 Air India Kanishka bombing, which killed 329 people mostly of Indian origin, on Thursday blamed the Canadian government for its failure to prevent the tragedy and recommended the appointment of a powerful security czar to resolve disputes between conflicting interests among security agencies.

"A cascading series of errors contributed to our
police and security forces" failing to stop the bombing,
Justice John Major, the head of the Kanishka bombing inquiry
commission recommended today, nearly 25 years after the
tragedy.

Since rivalry between the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) had led the plot to succeed and the accused to go scot free, the inquiry has recommended that a new director of Terrorism Prosecutions be created to co-ordinate such cases in the future.

"The government needs to take responsibility to avoid further failure and to prevent a return to a culture of complacency," Major said.

The new director of terrorism prosecutions should "provide relevant legal advice to the Integrated National Security Enforcement Teams and to the RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service," the 4,000-page report says.

Though the spy agency (CSIS) had successfully traced and wire-taped the plot mastermind Talwinder Singh Parmar testing the bomb, it failed to give the tapes to the RCMP. In fact, it erased the tapes rather than hand them over to the RCMP to successfully prosecute the suspects.

The report says "CSIS should destroy such intelligence after 25 years or a period determined by Parliament, but only if the director of CSIS certifies that it is no longer relevant."

Since the Air India case was tried a single judge, the report recommends up to 16 jurors in future terror cases. In all, the report makes 64 major recommendations.

Canada`s National Security Adviser should be given
sweeping new powers to resolve disputes between the Royal
Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Canadian Security and
Intelligence Services (CSIS), Justice Major told a live press
conference in Ottawa.

Major observed that national security continues to be
badly organised between the RCMP and Canada`s spy agency.

He also recommended radical transformation in
prosecution.

"This was the largest mass-murder in Canadian
history," said Major, adding the "finest tribute" that could
be paid the victims of the bombing is to create a rigorous
aviation security system.

What had happened

The Air India Kanishka flight 182 from Montreal to Delhi was blown off mid air near the Irish coast June 23, 1985, killing all 329 people on aboard.

Another bomb, meant for another Air India flight, also went off at Tokyo airport the same day, killing two baggage handlers.

As the Air India trial confirmed, both the bombs were loaded by pro-Khalistan elements at Vancouver airport in two unaccompanied suitcases which were later transferred to the connecting Air India flight and Tokyo-bound flight at Toronto airport.

The bombing mastermind Talwinder Singh Parmar, who wanted to avenge the Indian Army`s action at the Golden Temple in 1984 to flush militants led by Bhindranwale, fled to India where he was killed in a gun battle with the Punjab Police.

Only Inderjit Singh Reyat, who was released last year after spending 15 years in jail, was convicted for the bombing.

Two other suspects - Ajaib Singh Bagri and Ripudaman Singh Malik - were acquitted by the trial court in March 2005.

The verdict created pressure by the families of the victims on the Canadian government to pinpoint the reasons for the worst air tragedy till 9/11, leading to the appointment of the commission under Justice John Major.

The five-volume report, which also carries various academic papers and a number of studies, will pinpoint the causes and systemic failures which led to the worst aviation tragedy till 9/11.

-Agencies inputs