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Kanishka: Canadian Police ignored tip-off
June 14, 2003 16:54 IST
The Canadian Police had believed that the Sikh extremists accused of the 1985 bombing of the Air-India jetliner Kanishka [Flight 182] actually intended to target the then Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
This was despite its intelligence agency having been tipped off that an Air India plane out of Montreal would be bombed.
Months before the Kanishka flight exploded off the Irish coast killing all 329 people on board, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service had received information that the threat potential to all Indian missions in Canada was high and this was intended to include Air India, Canadian media reports said.
CSIS had also alerted the Canadian Police about its surveillance of the suspected mastermind, Talwinder Singh Parmar, on June 4, 1985.
Agents had noticed Parmar and another suspect Inderjit Singh Reyat go into the woods near Duncan and then heard what they believed were gunshots. It was later learnt Parmar and Reyat were testing explosive material, the reports quoting RCMP briefing note on the Air India investigation, said.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police did not follow up this information until after the June 23 bombing, as till then they were concentrating their efforts in keeping Rajiv Gandhi safe.
In a 1992 report on the Air India case, the RCMP interviewed Parmar intending to find out what he planned to do during Gandhi's visit to New York City.
"The action (to investigate Parmar) was preemptive, sending a message to (Parmar's group) that the authorities were aware of, and were reacting to the alleged plot to kill Gandhi," The Globe and Mail said quoting the Canadian Police briefing note on the Air India investigation, recently released by the British Columbia Supreme Court in Vancouver.
The 12-page note formed the basis of an RCMP status report on the Air India probe presented in 1992 to the watchdog group reviewing the conduct of the CSIS.
The note also said the RCMP received information from Air India in early June 1985 that one of its planes might be sabotaged.
"On June 6, 1985, the RCMP headquarters in Ottawa asked CSIS for a threat assessment as a result of correspondence the RCMP received from Air India concerning the likelihood of their aircraft being sabotaged. This threat is believed to be worldwide," The Vancouver Sun quoting the note said.
Criticism has flown thick and thin in recent days over a series of damning memos contained in thousands of pages of documents released in the Air India case that suggest CSIS bungled its pre-bombing investigation of the Air India suspects and that the RCMP blamed the spy agency for destroying evidence in the case.
The Kanishka Bombing: Complete Coverage
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