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Balm On Old Wounds
There are some wounds which never heal. Those who lost their dear ones—husbands, wives, children or siblings—continue to be haunted by the painful memories of the AI Kanishka 182 crash. Banu Saklikar lost her sister and brother-in-law. Says her husband Vasant, "Even after 15 long years everything comes back to you. There is no feeling of vengeance, but the pain is always going to be there."
Saklikar is bitter about the fact that it took the Canadian police 15 years to arrest the culprits. "Ye to zakham ke upar namak chidakna hai; why did the probe take such a long time? We are angry about the process which even now will simply go on and on."
There were many families who lost their only breadwinners in the crash. "Somebody has to pay for destroying our lives," says Vancouver-based Perviz Madon, who lost her husband Sam in the crash. But now she's happy that at least the culprits have been caught. Says she: "This is what we have been praying for all these years—that someone will go to the trials and pay."
The victims were mostly Canadians of Indian origin. There were 156 Canadian passport holders, 122 Indians and 22 Americans and a few from other countries in the ill-fated plane. Compensation isn't an issue here. Tens of millions of dollars were paid to Canadians in 1991 from Transport Canada, insurance companies, Canadian security, the airlines and the government itself through a series of class action suits.
But the families of the victims will always harbour anger and frustration against the Canadian police which reportedly ignored intelligence predictions of a series of deadly assaults in 1985. They are also highly critical of the unholy nexus between ‘notes and votes'. This, they say, only gave the accused legitimacy and power. One
of them, Ripudaman Singh Malik, is a millionaire and considered politically influential.
It is believed the total number of arrests will reach 12 in the next few days. But for those who lost their relatives, the only hope is to see the accused brought to trial and punished without any more delay.