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Journalist Zuhair Kashmeri, Author of “Soft Target” Book on Kanishka Bombing, Dies at age 72

January 18, 2019 | By

Chandigarh: Journalist Zuhair Kashmeri, who had penned the book titled Soft Target which investigated and explained the role of Indian intelligence agencies in Air India bombing of 1985 also known as Kanishka Bombing, reportedly died on December 23, 2018 in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, of heart-related issues at the age of 72.

Zuhair Kashmeri, who was widely known simply as “Kash” had revealed the Indian interference in Canada’s internal affairs.

File Photo of Zuhair Kashmeri (L); Title page of Soft Target Book (R)

Notably, Mr. Kashmeri wrote extensively for this newspaper about the 1985 Air India bombing. On June 23 of that year, Air India flight 182 exploded over the southwest tip of Ireland, killing all 329 people aboard, including 268 Canadian citizens. A related bombing at Tokyo’s Narita airport at the same time killed two baggage handlers.

His coverage of the bombing, which included suggestions that the Indian government was running an intelligence operation in Canada aimed at dividing the Sikh community.

Four years after the disasters, Mr. Kashmeri and fellow journalist Brian McAndrew explored the controversial subject further in their book, Soft Target: How the Indian Intelligence Service Penetrated Canada, which claimed that Indian spies had for years been engaged in a “devious and ruthless” operation to manipulate and destabilize Canada’s Sikh population.

The volume’s second edition, in 2005, was subtitled The Real Story Behind the Air India Disaster, and detailed a botched investigation into the bombings by the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. Only a public inquiry would offer closure to the families of the victims, the authors argued presciently.

A year later, former Supreme Court justice John Major was appointed to conduct a commission of inquiry. His report, released in 2010, concluded that a “cascading series of errors” by the government of Canada, the RCMP and CSIS failed to prevent the attacks. Mr. Major had earlier rejected a request by the World Sikh Organization to call Mr. Kashmeri as a witness.

Mr. Kashmeri, who died Dec. 21 in Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., of heart-related issues at the age of 72, was born in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, on Dec. 3, 1946. His father was the famous Bollywood screenwriter Agha Jani Kashmeri; his mother, Khursheed, was a social worker who focused on poor women.

He began his career at The Indian Express, where he wrote explosive stories claiming that the government and police had conspired to under-report deaths in ethnic riots. His exposé on poor, young Muslim girls sold into slavery drew international attention.

⊕ The Globe and Mail published an obituary on Zuhair Kashmeri which may be read at – Journalist Zuhair Kashmeri wrote extensively about the Air India bombing.


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