Covid-19 forces Air India bomb victims commemoration to go online

The people of West Cork joined an online commemoration today to mark the 35th anniversary of the Air India terrorist attack.
Covid-19 forces Air India bomb victims commemoration to go online
The memorial garden at Ahakista, West Cork, in memory of the victims of the Air India flight 182. The plane was blown up on 23 June 1985 while on its way from Canada to India. Picture: Dan Linehan
The memorial garden at Ahakista, West Cork, in memory of the victims of the Air India flight 182. The plane was blown up on 23 June 1985 while on its way from Canada to India. Picture: Dan Linehan

The people of West Cork joined an online commemoration today to mark the 35th anniversary of the Air India terrorist attack.

Videos of wreaths being laid at the Ahakista shoreside memorial near Bantry and a special message from Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were included in a moving YouTube remembrance ceremony for the victims of Air India Flight 182.

The 747 was en route from Montreal to London-Delhi on June 23, 1985, when a bomb planted on board by Canadian Sikh terrorists exploded over the Atlantic some 120 miles off the southwest coast of Ireland, killing all 329 on board, including 268 Canadian citizens, 27 British citizens and 24 Indian citizens.

Eighty-two children under the age of 13, including six babies, were among the victims. It remains the deadliest attack in Canadian history.

Travel restrictions prevented family and friends from attending the annual commemoration in Ahakista, so remembrance events moved onto the YouTube channel set up by the Air India Victims' Families Association.

Mr Trudeau said Canada has lost many more citizens to terrorism over the years.

“Those who commit such heinous acts seek to divide us. But time after time, they fail,” he said.

The Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Ian Doyle, said: “The bereavement and the suffering caused that day and the senseless loss of so many is impossible to fathom. While nothing can remedy that loss, we acknowledge it and carry it together as a community."

Others to contribute from Ireland included the Ambassador of India to Ireland, Sandeep Kumar, the Chargée d'Affaires of the Canadian Embassy to Canadians living in Ireland, Sabine Nolke, and Mrs Padmini Turlapti, who spoke on behalf of the families.

Anne O’Grady, who in 2006 was among the first recipients of a scholarship established by the families, said their generosity has helped many over the years.

"We are so grateful for your generosity and your kindness. There has always been a special bond between you and the people of Bantry and Ahakista," she said.

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