PM pays homage at Kanishka victims' memorial in Toronto

     Visiting Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh on Monday visited the memorial dedicated to the victims of the 1985 Air India plane explosion in Toronto. Air India Flight 182, named after Emperor Kanishka and operating on the Montreal-London-Delhi-Bombay route, was blown up on June 23, 1985, by a suitcase bomb at an altitude of 31,000 feet (9,400 m) off Ireland's Atlantic coast. In all, 329 people died in the disaster, including 280 Canadian nationals, mostly of Indian birth or descent, and 22 Indians. The incident represents the largest mass murder in modern Canadian history. Investigation and prosecution took almost 20 years and was the most expensive trial in Canadian history, costing nearly 130 million dollars. Earlier, on the sidelines of his meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at Toronto, Dr. Singh had said that the victims of the air crash deserved full justice. "My visit to Canada coincides with the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Kanishka air crash. This terrible disaster and the suffering it has led to will forever remain a stark reminder of the need for all of us to work unitedly to eliminate this scourge of terrorism," Dr. Singh said. "The victims of this ghastly tragedy deserve full justice," he added. He further said that the terrible disaster and the suffering that it caused to kith and kin, would "remain a stark reminder of the need for all of us to work unitedly to eliminate the scourge of terrorism". Earlier, on June 23, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper had issued an unqualified apology to the relatives of the victims. The powerful and emotional apology was issued on the 25th anniversary of the tragedy. "I will make no attempt to make any sense of it. This was evil, perpetrated by cowards, despicable, senseless and vicious," Harper said. What Harper did was give a long-awaited government acknowledgement that the bombing was a preventable, wholly Canadian crime, badly mishandled by federal intelligence and police agencies. The tragedy was made worse, the Prime Minister said, when "the families were for years after treated with scant respect or consideration" by Canadian authorities. "I stand before you, therefore, to offer on behalf of the Government of Canada, and all Canadians, an apology," he added.

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