Canadian police in Punjab to seek help in Kanishka probe

November 11th, 2008 - 10:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Chandigarh, Nov 11 (IANS) A five-member team of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has arrived here to seek the help of security agencies to interview ‘witnesses’ who could have information about the June 23, 1985 bombing of Air India’s Kanishka aircraft, police officials said here Tuesday.The RCMP team met top officials of the Punjab Police, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Chandigarh police to seek help in interviewing certain terrorists who were in prisons in Chandigarh and Punjab.

Prominent terrorists in the ‘witnesses’ list of the RCMP include Jagtar Singh Hawara and Paramjit Singh Bheora, the assassins of former Punjab chief minister Beant Singh. Both Khalistani terrorists, from Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), are facing death penalty and are presently lodged in the high-security Burail prison here.

The RCMP had in January this year asked the security agencies here for help to interview 12 ‘witnesses’ who it pointed out could have information regarding the Kanishka bombing which left all 329 passengers on board the aircraft dead near the coast of Ireland. The flight had taken off from Toronto.

The RCMP team comprises police officials James Stewart, Bart Balchford, Dan Bond, Dan Sandhar and Tuckey Shane.

The Punjab police had sat over the earlier RCMP letter in allowing interview of the ‘witnesses’ mentioned. The Chandigarh police had written back asking the RCMP to come via the government channel since the terrorists were in court custody.

The complete list included the names of Harminder Singh Gandhi, Naudh Singh Thind, Jivan Singh, Mohan Singh Johal, Kanwaljit Singh, Sukhjinder Singh, Pratap Singh Gill, Satnam Singh, Bohar Singh and former top intelligence official Maloy Krishna Dhar.

The RCMP has opened the investigation into the flight bombing even after a March 2005 verdict by the Supreme Court of British Columbia acquitting two suspects, Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri, as “not guilty”. The court had observed that the evidence against them had fallen short of conclusive proof.

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