By Suresh Kurl
New Canadian Media
Time passes, sometimes leaving behind only a knot of hurtful memories. Thirty years have gone by waiting for the news, when the living victims of the Air India tragedy would hear, feel and spend the rest of their days with some sense of justice. It seems like they will never realize their hopes.
Just ask those whom destiny left behind only to mourn loved ones lost on June 23, 1985.
The Air-India Bombing was not a car accident caused by a drunken driver on an icy Canadian road. It was a well planned, well financed and well executed aviation mass murder of 331 individuals. They had no idea before and after they boarded the plane that they were being taken – not to meet their relatives – but to the end of their own lives. Eyes still get moist and tears still roll down the cheeks when someone or something reminds Canadians of that dreadful day.
Inderjit Singh Reyat, the designated technician-cum-schemer of the 331 murders, made the bomb, tested the bomb and handed it over to his associate master-minds to execute the rest of the plot, to shatter the plane over the Atlantic Ocean. They did this rather effectively, leaving the Irish authorities scooping dead babies, lifeless adults, packed suitcases, floating dolls and pieces of the broken airplane for evidence.
The Air India Bombing was plotted and executed to avenge the wounded honour of the GoldenTemple, a respected seat of worship and devotion. This temple assault, referred to as "Operation Blue Star" by the New Delhi government, had the approval of the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and was no less evil than the bombing of the Air India flights that followed.
Mrs. Gandhi could have chosen some other political and peaceful solution to resolve the national crisis, but she did not, just as Mr. Reyat and his associates could have adopted some other peaceful path to achieve the Sikh separatist agenda. But they did not, because they, especially Mr. Reyat, the designated technician, must have believed, "Two wrongs equal one right."
Co-incidentally, there are a few similarities between Mrs. Gandhi and Mr. Reyat. Both of them have the same derivative Sanskrit root, "in-" meaning, stubborn, determined, bold and energetic.
Second, both of them suffered the consequences of their Karma (behaviour). PM Gandhi was assassinated at the hands of her trusted body guards. Reyat was doomed by his loyalty to his co-conspirators.
Who will ever believe that such a plot was the work of one person?
Moreover, Mr. Reyat ended up protecting, insulating and covering his criminal associates through his own "perjury". I call it destiny.
Third, their actions were a response to the demand for the creation of a separate nation, "Khalistan'.
Fourth, no one seems to admire them for the violence soaked sacrifices they made to attain their objectives.
Last week, Mr. Reyat was released from federal prison; technically, "paroled out". Where Mr. Reyat is going to live or with who he is going to live with is not of significance. What is significant is that he could never be free from the prison of his own guilt.
He might not even be able to sleep soundly. He might even suffer vivid nightmares of exploding planes and falling dead babies from the sky: all because he is unwilling to reconcile with the truth, compassion and honesty and universal love, the tenets of every religion, including his own religion.
Spiritually speaking, Mr. Reyat can only redeem himself of his portion of sins by disclosing the names of those who were involved in plotting, financing and executing this crime, which put him and him alone away in prison for a long time and caused him to suffer, socially, financially and spiritually.
Mr. Reyat is a Sikh. If he believes in God, he must also believe in Karma, its consequences and rebirth. If all this is true then the only option Mr. Reyat has is to pray for peace and strength to tell the truth and cleanse his conscience. Truth sets us free. Truth heals our wounded spirit. Truth prepares us to face our Creator.
As a spiritual human being, I am asking him to do the right thing for his soul and for the sake of his children and their children. He alone has the power to offer the gift of justice and peace to those he has victimized.
Mr. Reyat, leave this world with your head high with pride, not bending low, burdened with the weight of lies and a guilty conscience.
Dr. Suresh Kurl is a South Asian Community Activist, a former university professor, retired Registrar of the B.C. Benefits Appeal Board (Govt. of B.C.), a former Member of the National Parole Board (Govt. of Canada), a writer and public speaker.
This piece was originally appeared in New Canadian Media.
Who is Inderjit Singh Reyat
Inderjit Singh Reyat, convicted three times but still the only man convicted at all in Canada's worst-ever mass murder. Until Sept. 11, the bombing of Air India on June 23, 1985, was the deadliest terrorist attack anywhere, ever.
A mechanic from Punjab, living on Vancouver Island, Reyat bought the dynamite, the detonators and the batteries that took the lives of 329 passengers on Air India's Flight 182, which left from Toronto, stopped in Montreal and exploded over the coast of Ireland on its way to Heathrow Airport in London.
A second bomb blew up nearly simultaneously, killing two Japanese baggage handlers as they transferred it to another Air India flight leaving Narita International Airport in Tokyo. Both bombs originated in Vancouver. The passengers who checked them in never boarded. The plan was to produce two spectacular massacres, one on each side of the globe.
In total, 331 innocents died that day. Most were Canadians. Dozens were children. Whole families were wiped out.
Reyat, a member of an extremist group fighting for a Sikh homeland, was first convicted for building the Narita bomb. Then, at the Air India trial in Vancouver, he was jointly accused with two other Sikh fundamentalists for mass murder on Flight 182.
Reyat refused to tell what he knew, but cut a deal and pleaded guilty to manslaughter. The other two, Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri, were acquitted, the CBC reported.
Reyat's silence, though, cost him a third conviction, this time for perjury. He had told bare-faced lies in court to protect his co-conspirators. After serving two-thirds of his sentence, the National Parole Board was bound to release him — statutory release is, after all, statutory — but it did so with evident unease