‘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 of people recounted their memories and their losses, many of them renewing their calls for justice for decades.

On June 23, 1985, Air India Flight 182 exploded 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 in the plane.

Of the 329 killed, 280 were Canadians traveling 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 guess, dulled… But coming here, and on this particular day, hurts immensely.”

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. (Radio Canada)

Only one person was found guilty of 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 attorneys alleged during court proceedings that the bombing was a terrorist attack on state-owned Air India, an act of revenge by BC-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 destruction of Air India Flight 182

The destruction of Air India Flight 182

Britain’s Royal Navy searches for survivors and wreckage of an aircraft carrying 329 people, most of them Canadians.

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

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

Adrian Dix, British Columbia’s Minister of Health, spoke at the vigil as he has done for years and called the perpetrators “child killers” on Thursday.

Earlier today, 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 honor them and all victims of terrorist attacks,” he said in the tweet.