Silent Witness

Mini series (in development)


In 1985, a bomb exploded in the cargo compartment of Air India Flight 182 as it flew from Toronto to Bombay, killing all 329 passengers and crew on board, including 89 children. At the time, the bombing was the most lethal terrorist attack committed in aviation history, the work of Sikh terrorists in Canada campaigning for an independent country in the Indian subcontinent. Families were shattered, some obliterated off the face of the earth. Years later, they continue to struggle with the devastation.

The bombing of Air India exposed how a liberal democracy found itself unable to deal with terrorism. The activities of a small group of single-minded terrorists in British Columbia challenged the law enforcement, judicial and parliamentary institutions of Canada, and these institutions were found wanting.  Canadian Intelligence knew who the terrorists were long before the bombing, but they did not intervene. After the event, they began a cover up, all in the name of preserving public confidence, even if it meant undermining the police investigation. Throughout this ordeal, the families of the victims were forced to confront a second tragedy – the failure of government to deliver justice. Not only did the terrorists roam free, they became pillars of the community. Twenty years later, two of the conspirators stood trial, while a half dozen others still remain free.

In this bleak landscape, Silent Witness uncovers a true story of courage, heroism, transformation and redemption: a journalist who pursued the case relentlessly and helped to keep it alive throughout years of silence; a pair of intrepid Mounties who refused to close the file, doggedly pursuing the evidence until they finally got their man; the survivors – grieving fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters who refused to become embittered while never failing to seek justice in the aftermath of an unspeakable horror; a band of terrorists who betrayed the values of their community and silenced them in an iron-clad grip of fear; a liberal society in denial over its inability to deal with the evil in its midst.

Traveling over time and across continents – from the Golden Temple in the Punjab to the law courts in London, England, from the suburbs of Toronto to the skyscrapers of Vancouver – Silent Witness weaves together invisible threads into an international story of our times. Terror and justice, crime and punishment, courage, redemption and transformation – this is the story of Silent Witness.

Writers: Peter Lauterman and Srinivas Krishna

Producers: Srinivas Krishna and Sherrie Johnson

Commissioned by Toronto One (now Sun TV) and developed with the support of Telefilm Canada. © Divani Films Inc.