Now, families of Air India bomb blast victims ask for memorial in India

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

TORONTO - Families of crew members who died in the 1985 mid-air bomb explosion aboard an Air India flight have asked for the wreckage to be sent back to India for a memorial to commemorate the tragedy.

“As you are aware that Canada and Ireland have built four memorials and one memorial respectively, but we have none in India,” the son of pilot Narendra Singh Hanse, wife of co-pilot Satwinder Singh Bhinder and mother of flight attendant Shyla Juju said in a recent letter to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

The Globe and Mail further quoted them, as saying: “We do request your office to consider building a Kanishka memorial in Delhi for remembrance of those whose lives were sacrificed for no fault of their own,” they said, referring to the ill-fated plane by its formal name of Kanishka.

But the RCMP are reluctant to let go of the rumpled fragments of fuselage, charred passenger seats and twisted scraps of wing flaps that were brought up from the ocean floor 20 years ago.

“The wreckage is owned by the government of India but the RCMP, or Canada has custody of it and will maintain custody until there is no possibility of a future trial, because it is all considered evidence,” Inspector Tim Shields, spokesperson for RCMP E Division in Vancouver, said Monday in an interview.

The Boeing 747 was flying at 31,000 feet when the bomb exploded. Deep-sea dives found only 159 pieces of metal, about five per cent of the aircraft.

The aircraft was partially rebuilt with retrieved fragments and fabricated pieces of metal for the trial of two B.C. men accused of playing a role in the conspiracy to blow up the plane.

The wreckage is currently stored in a RCMP warehouse at an undisclosed location. (ANI)

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