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38 years on, 9-in-10 Canadians know little or nothing about Air India bombing: Survey

Nine-in-ten Canadians know little or nothing about the Air India Flight 182 terrorist attack that killed all 329 people on board on this day in 1985, according to a survey.

The Boeing 747 plane from Montreal to London disintegrated mid-air off the Irish coast within 45 minutes of taking off, making the bombing the deadliest attack carried out by Khalistani terrorists in Canada’s history.

Among the 329 dead were 268 Canadians, mostly of Indian origin, 24 Indian citizens and 27 British citizens. It included 82 children below the age of 13, as well as six infants.

Sixty-one per cent of Canadians say they have little knowledge and 28 per cent have no idea of the worst single instance of the mass killing of their fellow citizens, the survey by the non-profit, public polling agency Angus Reid Institute said on Thursday.

Of these, three-in-five, or 58 per cent, of those younger than 35 said they have never even heard of it.

In the British Columbia province, where the conspiracy to commit the bombings was hatched, and Ontario, where many of the victims lived, awareness is higher, but fewer than one-in-six in each province say they know a lot about the attack.

Just one-in-ten, or 11 per cent, Canadians say they “know a lot” about the incident. A majority (61 per cent) say they know just the main details, the survey, which polled 1,548 Canadians, said.

Canadians who were born after the Air India Bombings were most likely to say they had not heard of the tragedy.

More than half of men aged 18 to 34 (53 per cent), and three-in-five women that age (62 per cent), say they are not aware of the event.

In 2006, the then Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced a commission inquiry into the bombings, which found several security lapses and blunders on part of Canadians that led to the bombing.

Inderjit Singh Reyat was arrested and charged but only for manslaughter for his role in constructing the bomb.

He served 30 years for all his offences — including six of his nine-year sentence for perjury — but has since been released from prison.

Alleged mastermind of the attack Talwinder Singh Parmar was not convicted. He was killed in a gunfight with Punjab Police in 1992 when he returned to India.

According to the survey, Canadians are split overall as to whether they are confident in the ability of Canada’s security services to prevent a similar terrorist attack occurring in the country again.

Those who know a lot, or a little, about the Air India Bombings express more doubt in Canadian Security Intelligence Service and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police’s ability to stop an attack like Air India than those who had not heard of the incident.

The timing of the 38th anniversary of the bombing coincides with the recent killing of pro-Khalistan leader Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was declared a ‘wanted terrorist’ by the Indian government.

He was shot dead by two unidentified gunmen at the parking lot of Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in the Punjabi-dominated Surrey city of British Columbia province.

Nijjar had been accused of killing Ripudaman Singh Malik last year. Malik was acquitted in 2005 along with another accused Ajaib Singh Bagri in the case.

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