Tuesday 27 September 2016

We will never forget, locals pledge 30 years after Air India disaster

Published 24/06/2015 | 02:30

The parents of Sanjay and Deepak Turlapati who were killed in the Air India explosion, at the Air India memorial, Ahakista, west Cork. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney
The parents of Sanjay and Deepak Turlapati who were killed in the Air India explosion, at the Air India memorial, Ahakista, west Cork. Photo: Michael Mac Sweeney
Seats from the plane are brought ashore at Cork. Photo: Ted McCarthy

An Irish community has vowed it will never forget the Air India tragedy and the families of the 329 victims.

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The promise came as Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan joined Canadian Justice Minister Peter MacKay, Indian External Affairs Minister Vijay Kumar Singh and the families of Air India's Flight 182 in west Cork to mark the 30th anniversary of the atrocity.

A memorial at Ahakista was erected at the closest point of land to the Air India flight that was brought down by a terrorist bomb some 160km off the west Cork coast.

The Air India Boeing 747 was destroyed on June 23 1985 when the terrorist bomb detonated while it was cruising at 9,400 metres (31,000 feet), on the Montreal-London-Delhi service.

All 329 people on board died. They included 268 Canadians, 24 Britons and 24 Indians as well as other nationalities.

The memorial service was marked by a special fly-past of the Irish Coastguard's Sikorsky helicopter while the Naval Service vessel LE Samuel Beckett was anchored in the bay.

Over the past 30 years, the people of Ahakista have taken the families of those who died to their hearts - many of the relatives now staying with locals when they attend the memorial each year.

Mr Flanagan warned that the world could not tolerate such acts of terror.

"There can never be justification for the murder of innocents in pursuit of any political end," he said.

"Unfortunately, terrorism continues to plague our world and we have seen many repugnant and malevolent acts in the last 30 years.

"But what is abundantly clear is that terrorism does not deliver the political goals of its perpetrators, and that governments will continue to tackle the scourge of terrorism and promote dialogue and justice."

Among those who attended was poet Renée Sarojini Saklikar (53), who lost her aunt and uncle in the horrific tragedy.

"My family will never forget the compassionate care given to us by the people of Cork," she said.

Irish Independent

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