`Canada suggests $25,000 compensation for 1985 AI bombing`

The Canadian government has suggested a compensation of USD 20,000 to USD 25,000 to families of each of the victims in the tragic 1985 Air India Kanishka terror bombing that killed 329 people.

Toronto: The Canadian government has
suggested a compensation of USD 20,000 to USD 25,000 to
families of each of the victims in the tragic 1985 Air India
Kanishka terror bombing that killed 329 people, mostly of
Indian origin, a news report said on Saturday.

Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Public
Safety Minister Vic Toews gathered with relatives of the
victims of Air India Flight 182 in Toronto yesterday to
discuss the government`s response to the recommendations of a
public inquiry into the worst terrorism case in Canadian
history.

Even as the government has made no offer, the Harper
government has opened talks over compensation by telling
relatives of the victims that payouts in acknowledgment of
historic wrongs in Canada have ranged from USD 20,000 to USD
25,000 per victim, the Mail and Globe newspaper reported.

A public inquiry into the bombing near the Irish coast
on June 23, 1985 recommended ex-gratia payment to families of
victims, mostly of Indian-origin, and blamed the Canadian
government for its failure to prevent the country`s worst
terror attack.

Canadian premier Stephen Harper had promised to
respond positively to the damning report into the 1985
Kanishka bombing, especially on the call for compensation, as
the families torn apart by the tragedy said the word "closure"
still haunts them.

At the time of the 25th anniversary of the Kanishka
bombing in June, the Prime Minister formally apologised to the
victim families, saying "some wounds are too deep to be healed
even by the remedy of time".

Though never officially announced, most Air India
victims families earlier received an average out-of-court
settlement payments of USD 75,000 for each person killed, the
report said.

Promode Sabharwal, who lost his 12-year old daughter
in the disaster, took discussions with ministers and officials
to mean that Ottawa intends to pay out only USD 25,000 to the
families of each victim.

He said he did not have an amount in mind but added he
was surprised and disappointed at the figure.

"It should be reasonable. USD 25,000 how far can it
go and what is the use of it? I don’t know. I cannot say
anything more. Whatever they are doing, they should know
better," he was quoted as saying by the Canadian daily.

Sabharwal suggested an amount close to those paid to
victims of terrorism in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, where the
Libyan government paid out USD 10-million to relatives of each
victim.

"We have been waiting and waiting and waiting. They
spend millions on the RCMP [investigation] on this-and-that
things," he said.

However, the daily cited sources familiar with the
deliberations to say that the discussion of earlier
compensation did not constitute an offer.

"There was no suggestion the government has a
predetermined outcome or made a decision. Those were simply
mentioned as factual historical reference points so people
understand what has happened before," the source said.

The Kanishka bombing was the worst aviation tragedy
till 9/11 happened. The bomb was planted by Khalistani
militants seeking to take revenge for the military action at
the Golden Temple in June 1984 by the Indian government.

Inderjit Singh Reyat, the only person ever convicted
in the case, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2003.

Suspected ringleader Talwinder Singh Parmar died in
India in 1991, and the two main surviving suspects - Ripudaman
Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri - were both acquitted in
March 2005 after a 19-month trial.

PTI

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