Air India crash victms’ families decry ‘demeaning’ Canadian Government compensation offer

Monday, October 25, 2010

TORONTO - Family members of victims who died in the June 1985 Air India bomb-related crash off the Irish coast, have rejected and decried the Canadian Government’s offer of a compensation of up to 25,000 dollars to each.

At a private meeting last week, Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney spoke with relatives of the 329 people who were killed in 1985 when a bomb, hidden inside a suitcase, exploded on Air India Flight 182 bound for India from Toronto.

However, according to the Globe and Mail, several family members have publicly complained about the dollar figures raised in discussions with them, despite requests from the government that they refrain from speaking to the media.

The government is yet to make a formal offer, but pointed out that previous ex-gratia payments - which are made without admission of legal liability and have been given to Japanese-Canadians who were placed in internment camps during the Second World War, as well as those forced to pay the Chinese head tax - have ranged from 20,000 to 25,000 dollars.

Contacted, most family members declined to speak for the record about their reaction to the figure.

Some, however, said their primary concern is seeing the national security recommendations of Judge Major brought into force, and that money is not an issue.

Others, however, expressed outrage.

Esther Venketeswaran, whose father Trichur Krihnan Venketeswaran died in the bombing, called the amount “insulting, demeaning, disrespectful.

“All we’re asking from the government is an appropriate, respectful dollar figure to help us get our life back. That’s all we’re asking. Step up and do the right thing,” she said.

In an interview, Ms. Venketeswaran and her mother Ann Venketeswaran, a retired nurse, said they felt left out of the initial organizing of litigation, partly because they live near Niagara Falls, Ontario.

In all, Mr. Venketeswaran’s wife and two children received about 315,000 dollars from the airline itself, 60,000 dollars of which was handed over to legal fees, the family said. They have received nothing from the government, they said.

Asked what figure would restore their faith in the government, the mother and daughter answered in unison: “$1-million.” (ANI)

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