'Canada suggests USD 25,000 compensation for 1985 AI bombing'

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.

DH Newsletter Privacy Policy Get top news in your inbox daily
GET IT
Comments (+)