British Columbia

'It brings back all the horrible memories': British Columbians mark 37 years since Air India bombing

Families and others who lost loved ones in a massive terrorist attack 37 years ago attended a memorial service to mark the grim anniversary in Vancouver's Stanley Park on Thursday evening.

Dozens gathered for a memorial vigil in Vancouver to commemorate 329 killed in attack

A man remembers victims of the 1985 Air India bombing, during a 37th anniversary memorial vigil in Vancouver's Stanley Park on Thursday, June 23, 2022.
A man is pictured saying a prayer during the 37th anniversary memorial vigil for the victims of the 1985 Air India bombing. The memorial vigil was held in Vancouver's Stanley Park on Thursday. (CBC)

Families and others who lost loved ones in a massive terrorist attack 37 years ago attended a memorial service to mark the grim anniversary in Vancouver's Stanley Park on Thursday evening.

Dozens of people recounted their memories and losses, with many renewing their decades-long calls for justice.

On June 23, 1985, Air India Flight 182 was blown up over the Atlantic Ocean, en route to London. All 329 people on board were killed.

The flight disappeared from radar off the coast of Ireland after a bomb exploded on the airplane.

Of the 329 killed, 280 were Canadians travelling to India, and 86 were children. It is considered the worst mass murder in modern Canadian history.

One of those killed that day was Eddie Madon's father.

"It brings back all the horrible memories of that day," Madon said Thursday. "Over time the wounds are, I suppose, dulled … But coming here, and on this day in particular, it pains immensely."

Dozens of British Columbians whose loved ones were among the hundreds killed in the 1985 Air India bombing attend a 37th anniversary memorial vigil in Vancouver's Stanley Park on Thursday, June 23, 2022.
Dozens of British Columbians whose loved ones were among the hundreds killed in the 1985 Air India bombing attend the 37th anniversary memorial vigil in Vancouver's Stanley Park on Thursday. (CBC)

Only one person was ever convicted in the attack: Inderjit Singh Reyat. The Canadian-British citizen is now free, having served 30 years for his role in the crime, and for lying at trial.

Crown lawyers alleged during the court proceedings that the bombing was a terrorist attack against state-owned Air India, an act of revenge by B.C.-based Sikh extremists against the Indian government for ordering the army to raid Sikhism's holiest shrine, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, in June 1984.

WATCH | The downing of Air India Flight 182

The downing of Air India Flight 182 in 1985

37 years ago
Duration 6:57
Sunday Report on CBC-TV carries a report on Britain's Royal Navy's search for survivors and wreckage from a jet carrying 329 people – most of them Canadian. Aired June 23, 1985.

Two other B.C. men, Ajaib Singh Bagri and Ripudaman Singh Malik, were acquitted of murder and conspiracy charges in the two bombings.

The suspect whom Canadian authorities alleged was the mastermind of the bomb plot, Talwinder Singh Parmar, was killed in India by police.

Adrian Dix, B.C.'s health minister, spoke at the vigil as he has done for years, and called the perpetrators "child killers" on Thursday.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted in memory of the "329 innocent people … killed in a terrorist attack" on the Air India flight.

The day is commemorated annually as Canada's officially declared National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism, "to honour them and all victims of terrorist attacks," he said in the tweet.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David P. Ball

Journalist

David P. Ball is a multimedia journalist with CBC News in Vancouver. He has previously reported for the Toronto Star, Agence France-Presse, and The Tyee, and has won awards from the Canadian Association of Journalists and Jack Webster Foundation. You can send story tips or ideas to david.ball@cbc.ca, or contact him on Twitter.

With files from Mike Zimmer and Meera Bains

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