Thursday, October 12, 2006

Grieving Sikh father relives daughter’s death

Ottawa: Rattan Singh Kalsi couldn’t keep his voice from breaking as he described the dream of his daughter Indira - to complete her degree in nursing at the University of Guelph, move to the Punjab region of northern India and open a free dispensary to distribute medicine to the poor.
Instead she perished, along with 328 others, in the worst terrorist attack in Canadian history - an attack carried out in the name of the Sikh religion into which her father had been born.
“She wanted to help the very same people who killed her,” Kalsi said Wednesday as he appeared before a public inquiry into the 1985 Air India bombing.
And on the day she died, in an irony too enormous for words, her father was visiting the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of the Sikh people. Kalsi recalled how he had travelled to India two weeks ahead of Indira, to inspect accommodations and make arrangements for her to join him.
On his visit to the temple, Kalsi worried that the sun-baked marble would burn his daughter’s feet when she removed her shoes to enter the shrine. A caretaker reassured him with some practical advice - just be sure to wear heavy socks, he said.
It wasn’t until Kalsi returned to the home of his wife’s family that he got the terrible news - the plane carrying his daughter had gone down off the Irish coast, and it looked as if there would be no survivors.
“I fainted,” he said. “I don’t know (for) how long. When I got up they were pouring cold water on my head.”
11/10/06 Jim Brown/The Canadian Press/, Canada