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Air India terror attack victim’s memoir released in Canada Featured

The autobiography of a philanthropist who lost his wife and two children in the Air India bombing was released in Delta, British Columbia, on Sunday afternoon.

Ray of Hope is the memoir of Dr. Chandra Sankurathri whose wife Manjari, son Srikiran and daughter Sarada were aboard the ill-fated Air India Flight 182 that was bombed mid-air in June 1985, killing all 329 people aboard.

This was the worst attack in the history of aviation terrorism before 9/11. Widely blamed on the Sikh separatists seeking revenge for the repression of Sikhs in 1984, the attack had turned the life of Sankurathri upside down. Yet, turning his grief into strength, Sankurathri established a foundation in memory of his wife in her native city of Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh in India.

The Manjarai Sankurathri Memorial Foundation currently runs a free school and an eye hospital for poor and needy. Whereas, the school is named after his daughter whose dream of going to school was shattered as she was only four. He named the hospital after his son.
 
The memoir was released at George Mackie Library in his absence by other Air India victims’ families and friends and two prominent journalists Charlie Smith and Robert Matas. However, his message was read out at the beginning of the event that was organized by Indians Abroad for Pluralist India (IAPI) in commemoration of the Air India bombing anniversary that falls on June 23. A day before the book launch, the victims’ families had gathered at the Air India memorial in Stanley Park in Vancouver, Canada, to remember their loved ones.
 
Among those who unveiled the book were Major Singh Sidhu – who lost his sister, a nephew and a niece and Mandeep Grewal who lost his father. Bahama, a close friend of Dr. Sankurathri joined the unveiling ceremony on his behalf.

A short documentary on Dr. Sankurathri’s work was shown at the event that was opened with a Punjabi poem dedicated to the Air India victims by Amrit Diwana. Both Smith and Matas spoke at length about the Air India tragedy and encouraged people to read Ray of Hope that inspires everyone to fight hatred with love.

Describing the Air India disaster as an attack on the Indian diversity, the IAPI cofounder Gurpreet Singh threw light on the ugly political events of 1984 that led to the bombing and cautioned the gathering about growing attacks on religious minorities in India from Hindu Right and its impending consequences. He pointed out that the Air India bombing was the culmination of similar violence against Sikhs.
 
Among those in attendance were former British Columbia Premier Ujjal Dosanjh, World Sikh Organization founder Gian Singh Sandhu and University of British Columbia researcher and an activist Sukhvinder Kaur Vinning. Others present included the IAPI cofounder Parshotam Dosanjh and visiting Punjabi leftist activist from India Sardara Mahil.

 

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