Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Family members clamour for justice at Air India inquiry

Ottawa: Ramachandra Gopalan can remember exactly what he was doing the afternoon of June 23, 1985. He was at home in India, sitting in his living room, reading the Sunday paper, when a peculiar sensation came over him.
“Suddenly I felt suffocated,” he recalled Monday.
“I felt as if, like in a swimming pool, the water started rising in the room, and I was trying to go above the level of water to breathe. The feeling was so strange. I got really terrified, I had to rush out of the room.”
An hour later Gopalan got a phone call from a relative in Canada. The Air India plane carrying his brother Krishnakumar, a newly graduated mechanical engineer from Toronto, had plunged into the North Atlantic off the coast of Ireland.
It cast the terrible premonition of an hour before in a new light — especially when Gopalan, weeks later, checked the seating plan for Air India Flight 182. His brother had been sitting in a section of the fuselage that was spotted by a robot camera, but never recovered from the ocean floor.
“Probably he is sitting there with his seatbelt on still.”
Like other relatives who have told their stories to a public inquiry headed by former Supreme Court judge John Major, Gopalan has difficulty understanding why, more than two decades later, only one man has ever been convicted in the terrorist bombing that brought down the plane.
10/10/06 Jim Brown/CP/Calgary Sun, Canada