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Kanishka

Vancouver, June 3 (PTI): The Canadian government has rejected a demand for an inquiry into what the country’s intelligence agency, whose agent had infiltrated a Sikh militant group prior to the Air-India bombing in 1985, knew about the tragedy.

Media reports, citing interrogation files released last week, said the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) had planted a mole in the Sikh group and concealed information about his activities from Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The reports, citing police files, allege that the spy agency pulled out their mole, Surjan Singh Gill, just three days before Air-India Flight 182 Kanishka exploded off the coast of Ireland in June 1985, killing all 329 onboard.

Accused Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri have pleaded not guilty to murder in a trial that started in April and is expected to last till 2004.

Canadian prosecutors allege the two were part of a plot by a group of Vancouver-based Sikh extremists to destroy Kanishka and another Air-India aircraft.

The second bomb exploded in Tokyo’s Narita airport, killing two airport workers, 54 minutes before Flight 182 went down.

Another suspected Sikh separatist Inderjit Singh Reyat is serving a five-year sentence after pleading guilty to manslaughter.

The issue was raised in the House of Commons in Ottawa yesterday where the Canadian Opposition parties called for a probe into the accusations that the intelligence agency blocked a police investigation into the Kanishka bombing case on June 1.

Kevin Sorenson of the right-wing Populist Canadian Alliance demanded that the government hold an inquiry into the allegations.

“Will the solicitor-general immediately initiate a full public inquiry to ensure there was full disclosure on the part of CSIS'” he asked.

However, solicitor-general Wayne Easter rejected the demand, saying: “Protecting Canada and Canadians from acts of terrorism has been a primary mandate of CSIS since its inception in 1984. To suggest that CSIS for any reason would pull back from an ongoing counter-terrorism investigation and jeopardise the lives of Canadians and others is absolutely absurd.”

He added: “This has been the longest, most costly investigation in Canadian history and my interest and Canadians’ interest is to see it carried out through to its conclusion in court.”

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