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Air India bombing: Families shocked over 25,000-dollar compensation offer by Canadian Govt.

By Nairita Das

Toronto (Canada), Oct. 23 (ANI): Family members of victims who died in the June 1985 Air India plane bombing off the Irish coast have expressed shock and disappointment over the Canadian Government"s proposal to offer only up to 25,000 dollars per victim as compensation.

Promode Sabharwal, who lost his 12-year old daughter in the Air India disaster, said he did not have an amount in mind, but added he was surprised and disappointed at the figure. "It should be reasonable. 25,000 dollars - how far can it go and what is the use of it? I don't know. I cannot say anything more. Whatever they are doing, they should know better," the Globe and Mail quoted Sabharwal, as saying.

Sabharwal suggested Ottawa consider the payments that were made to victims of terrorism in other high profile cases, such as the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. The Libyan government paid out 10 million dollars to relatives of each victim.

"I do not know what they are up to, what they think," Sabharwal said of the Harper government.

"We have been waiting and waiting and waiting. They spend millions on the RCMP [investigation] - on this-and-that things," he said.

Sabharwal"s comments came as the Stephen Harper Government opened discussions over compensation with relatives of Air India victims by telling them that payouts in acknowledgment of historic wrongs in Canada have ranged from 20,000 to 25,000 dollars per victim.

However it made no offer during meetings Friday with relatives of those killed in the 1985 airline bombing, the Globe and Mail reports.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Public Safety Minister Vic Toews gathered with relatives of Air India victims in Toronto Friday to discuss how the government will respond to the recommendations of a public inquiry into the tragedy.

The June report from Mr. Justice John Major on the 25-year-old Air India bombing detailed the federal government"""s bungling of the ensuing investigation and urged, among other things, symbolic compensation.

This amounts to ex-gratia payments that are made without admission of legal liability.

As it is, most Air India victims families received out-of-court settlement payments a few years after the bombing, based on what was known at that time about the circumstances surrounding the deaths. These payments were never officially announced.

But government documents released under access to information law, and interviews with family members, suggest the average payment was 75,000 dollars for each person killed. Some who lost high-income family members received more.

In discussing a possible federal government payment Friday, sources say Canadian officials outlined how much Ottawa has traditionally paid out in ex-gratia payments.

Two-hundred-and-eighty Canadians died in the Air India bombing.

Friday's meeting in Toronto lasted about an hour and a half. (ANI)

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