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AIR INDIA ANNIVERSARY

RCMP Say They Are Still “Active And Ongoing” With Air India Investigation Despite Not Much Breakthrough In 30 Years

OTTAWA – While families observed the 30th anniversary of the Air India bombing, the RCMP said its investigation into the Air India bombing — the worst terrorist act in Canadian history — remains “active and ongoing.”

On June 23, 1985, an explosion ripped apart Air India Flight 182 en route to New Delhi, killing all 329 people aboard, most of them Canadians of Indian descent.

While authorities believe Sikh extremists fighting for an independent homeland sabotaged the Boeing 747, which crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Ireland, there are many conspiracy theories that rogue Indian government agents were behind the bombing, one of the main reasons why it remains largely unsolved.

A federal commission of inquiry concluded that a “cascading series of errors” by police, intelligence officers and air safety regulators allowed the attack to take place in the first place.

The complex investigation of the crime was hampered by difficulty raising the wreckage from the ocean floor, agency turf wars and challenges persuading witnesses to come forward.

Talwinder Singh Parmar, a prime suspect, died in 1992. In 2003, Inderjit Singh Reyat pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Two years later a British Columbia judge found Ajaib Singh Bagri and Ripudaman Singh Malik not guilty, reported Canadian Press.

But police announced this week that they have not closed the file.

A “dedicated team” of Mounties continues to probe the attack on the jetliner and a related explosion at Tokyo’s Narita airport, said Sgt. Annie Linteau, an RCMP spokeswoman.

“Over the last 30 years, the Air India investigation is the longest and certainly one of the most complex domestic terrorism investigations that the RCMP has undertaken in the history of the Canadian judiciary,” Linteau told The Canadian Press.

“We have continuously worked with various international police agencies in Europe, Asia and North America, who have been extremely co-operative.”

The Mounties rarely discuss ongoing investigations, and Linteau declined to provide additional details.

Bal Gupta of the Air India Victims Families Association said he had not heard from the RCMP in more than a year.

“I don’t know anything about progress,” said Gupta, who lost his wife in the bombing.

“In principle, any murder file is not closed unless the culprits are sentenced.”

Justice Minister Peter MacKay joined community members and families of Air India victims early Tuesday at a ceremony in Ahakista on Ireland’s southwest coast.

The federal inquiry into the bombing, led by former Supreme Court justice John Major, said in 2010 that fundamental changes to intelligence handling, criminal prosecutions and aviation security were needed to prevent another deadly attack in the skies.

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