TORONTO: A moment of silence was observed in the House of Commons, flags were flown at half-mast at several places in the country, and tributes were paid to the victims by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and in the House of Commons as Canada marked the 37th anniversary of the bombing of Air India flight 182, the Kanishka, by Khalistani terrorists on June 23, 1985, claiming the lives of 329 passengers and crew members.
“This remains the deadliest terrorist attack in Canadian history. To honour the victims of this tragedy and of terrorist attacks across the world, the government declared June 23 of every year as a National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism,” Trudeau said, in a statement released by the prime minister’s office. However, the Khalistani terrorists behind the act, who were based in Canada, were not referenced in the statement.
Flags flew at half-mast in memory of the victims at the British Columbia legislature in Victoria, as well as the cities of Winnipeg and Saskatoon. A moment of silence was observed in the House of Commons, and all MPs present stood as about a dozen members of the families of victims watched the proceedings. Bal Gupta, chair of the Air India 182 Victims Families Association said, “I am happy this was done.”
Gupta’s wife Ramwati was killed in the bombing.
The tragedy was also recalled in the House of Commons. Speaking at the chamber on Thursday, Liberal Party MP Chandra Arya pointed out that the victims included 268 Canadian citizens and added that this was “the deadliest act of aviation terrorism in the world until 9/11”. His party colleague Taleeb Noormohamed said this “must always be remembered by this House and all Canadians as a Canadian tragedy”.
Memorial services were held across the country to mark the solemn anniversary. Among these was the ceremony at Queen’s Park in Toronto, where the first-ever memorial came up. Among the mourners was Toronto-based Deepak Khandelwal, who was just 17 when lost his sisters Chandra and Manju in the tragedy. He rued, “Canada has not a really good job of keeping this in the mind of Canadians.”
A larger ceremony is usually organised at the Humber Bay Park Memorial in the city, but family members were disappointed that after two years of restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they could not gather in large numbers there as the entire park is undergoing renovation. “It’s unfortunate. After two years of Covid, we could have had everybody there,” Khandelwal said.
Air India flight 182 was flying from Montreal to London, when it was blown up by Khalistani terrorists on June 23, 1985. Some of its remnants were strewn over the coast of Ireland’s Cork region, the rest sank into the North Sea. All 307 passengers and 22 crew members on board were killed.