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'We wanted the accused to be hanged'

By Vijay Singh in Mumbai
March 18, 2005 09:59 IST
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Flight purser Freddy Balsara, 29, was aboard Air-India's Flight no 182 on that fateful day on June 23, 1985, when it exploded mid-air above the Atlantic Ocean on its way from Montreal to London, killing all the 329 people on board.

Twenty years after the incident, a court in Canada gave its verdict on the case on Thursday, acquitting the two accused - Ripudaman Singh Malik, 57 and Ajaib Singh Bagri, 55.

The verdict has shocked the families of the victims, including Balsara's brother Perci Balsara and sister-in-law Veronica.

"No justice has been done to us," was Perci's reaction.

"The court verdict is unfair. The family member of all passengers should come together and demand an inquiry," Veronica said.

"How can you saying there is no evidence against the accused? Twenty years is a long period to collect evidence. If there was no evidence how did the case go on for so long?

"Canadian authorities are responsible for everything. Why didn't they produce enough evidence? They had enough time to collect evidence," she said. Both the acquitted persons are the real culprits, she added.

Balsara's family got information about the trial through various publications and TV channels.

"We were seated in front of the TV on Wednesday night to know what the court verdict was. We wanted the accused to be hanged. They destroyed the life of so many families," Veronica said.

"We had waited so long for the conviction of the accused, but nothing happened to them. Such people should not be let off," she said.

"We know we can't do anything against the verdict. But we will express our strong opinion against it through the media."

Freddy was very charming and full of life, recalled Veronica. He was unmarried and had fiancé in Canada. He met her in Canada. In fact, she saw him off at the airport on the day of the mishap. Her family had informed the Balsaras about the explosion, Veronica said.


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Vijay Singh in Mumbai