PM Harper's Kanishka crash apology stirs strong emotions among Indo-Canadians

     Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's apology about the Air India disaster reverberated across the country, stirring strong emotions among a new generation of Indo-Canadians. "It means a lot," said Romy Jassal, who was only seven at the time of the terrorist bomb explosion. "I respect it, just in memory of those who passed away," The Globe and Mail quoted him as saying further on Wednesday at the Guru Nanak Gurdwara here, moments after the apology was made. Bikramjit Singh Sandhar, president of the temple executive, said the apology extends beyond the families of the victims. The terrorist bombing has cast a shadow over the entire community. But we are the same as every other Canadian. We also want answers," he said. "There is some comfort from the acknowledgment by someone of government failings.But many people will be watching whether the apology is only the first step or will lead to action on the inquiry report recommendations, Sandhar added. Several Sikh gurdwaras in Canada held a special 48-hour non-stop reading of the scripture to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the bombing. As Harper was delivering his apology at a memorial in Toronto, reader Ranjit Kaur Dhillon was reading the scripture at the Surrey temple. Several men, women and youngsters came and went as the Scripture reading continued. They bowed and sat on the thick maroon carpet , staying for five to 10 minutes. Outside, several said they came to hear the prayers. They said they were not aware of the Air India memorial service. The recital was to conclude later Wednesday with hymn and the lighting of candles to commemorate the number of people who were killed. Sukhminder Singh Virk, who was one at the time of the terrorist bombing, said he learned about the disaster 10 years ago. "For me, it is history" he said. He had a typical Canadian upbringing and the disaster was not treated as a Canadian tragedy, he said. It was viewed as an Indian tragedy. The apology is significant but does not remedy all the hurt, Virk, a member of the temple executive, also said. "It shows an acknowledgment of what happened," he said. "But it should not stop there," he added. Later in Vancouver, about 100 people came out to a brief ceremony at the Air India memorial in Stanley Park.

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