25 years later, Canada offers $25,000 to each Kanishka victim family

By Gurmukh Singh, IANS
Saturday, October 23, 2010

TORONTO - The Canadian government has reportedly offered $20,000 to $25,000 to families of each Air India Kanishka victim - 25 years after all 329 people on board Flight 182 from Montreal to New Delhi perished when it was blown off mid-air near the Irish coast June 23, 1985.

A public inquiry by former Canadian chief justice John Major in June blamed various Canadian agencies for failing to stop the bombing plot by Khalistani militants and asked the government to compensate the families.

Member of some victim families met Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and public safety minister Vic Toews here Friday for discussions on the package.

The ministers are said to have made no offers at the meeting, but reports say the Canadian government has told the families that compensation offered in similar cases ranged from $20,000 to $25,000 for each victim.

Though the families have already been paid about $75,000 each in an out-of-court settlement a few years ago, the John Major inquiry report asked the government to compensate them further.

But some families are not happy with the reported offer, citing the huge payout of $10 million by Libya to relatives of each victim in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

The proposed compensation is part of the current Canadian government to put closure on the tragedy.

On the 25th anniversary of the bombing this June, Prime Minister Stephen Harper formally apologized to the victim families and the Indo-Canadian community for the tragedy.

There were 280 were Canadian citizens of Indian origin among the 329 victims.

The Kanishka bombing was the worst aviation tragedy till 9/11 happened. The bomb was planted by Khalistani militants to avenge the Indian Army action at the Golden Temple in June 1984.

Though two main suspects - Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri - were acquitted and only one - Inderjit Singh Reyat - jailed, the Canadian authorities are still working on the Air India file.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)

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