Anniversary of Air India tragedy
June 23, 2010 is the 25th anniversary of the Air India tragedy. On this date 25 years ago, a bomb exploded on an Air India plane carrying 329 passengers while flying over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Ireland. Everyone on board perished. The prime minister of Canada called the prime minister of India to offer condolences — though most of the people lost were Canadian.
This tragedy touches me because it happens to touch the country of my birth (Canada), the county and country of my ancestry (Cork, Ireland — the site of the handsome memorial) and the country of my heart, India. It also touches me because I feel the victims’ families have not been properly respected; nor has justice been served. In fact, the whole episode, from the “cascading series of errors” before the explosion to the delayed Commission of Inquiry report and general cultural denial, is a Canadian embarrassment.
The best thing I have read about the tragedy was a story by Mary Lou Finlay, called Air India: Lest we Forget, in the Toronto Star newspaper on June 16, 2010. Ms. Finlay tells the stories of how two of the victim’s survivors slowly rebuilt their lives — dancer Lata Pada and Dr. Anant Anantaraman. Lata Pada — who lost her husband Vishnu and two daughters, Brinda and Arati — went on to found a dance company and was given the Order of Canada in 2009. Dr. Anantaraman — who lost his wife Bhawani and his daughters Rupa and Aruna — went back to India to recover and started a school for poor children, a school that is now thriving.
People who can live through such tragedy, and find a way to create and give, deserve our admiration. And all of the victims and their loved ones deserve a moment of silent remembrance.
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