Belfast Telegraph

Baby killed by IRA remembered 30 years on

Infant shot dead with RAF father in Germany

The coffins of Corporal Maheshkumar Islania (right) and his baby daughter Nivruti are carried by his comrades
The coffins of Corporal Maheshkumar Islania (right) and his baby daughter Nivruti are carried by his comrades
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

The second youngest victim of the Troubles will be remembered today on the 30th anniversary of her death.

Nivruti Islania was just six months old when she was shot in the head by the IRA while in her father's car in West Germany in 1989.

She died instantly alongside her father, 34-year-old RAF communications operative Corporal Maheshkumar 'Mick' Islania in the October 26 attack.

It has been described as a "particularly heinous" crime.

Witnesses at the time recalled Corporal Islania's wife Smita cradling her dead daughter in her arms following the attack close to RAF Wildenrath, near the border with Holland.

Smita had been driving the couple's British registered Volkswagen Jetta car, which had stopped outside a snack bar attached to a petrol station. As the vehicle drove off two men walked up and opened fire with automatic weapons and the gunmen kept firing through the rear window.

Corporal Islania and his daughter died instantly, the baby killed by a single gunshot.

Corporal Islania's wife escaped uninjured.

The two gunmen then ran to a waiting Ford camper van driven by a third man and they drove off in the direction of the Dutch border.

Kenny Donaldson, director of services at victims' group SEFF, said the murders should not be forgotten.

The father and daughter are honoured on SEFF's Memorial Quilt 'Uniting Innocent Victims', which remembers the 15 innocents murdered by the Provisional IRA across mainland Europe, he said.

"Thirty years on it is important that wider society has an understanding of the brutality of that crime," he added.

"A baby was murdered whilst being nursed by her mother. Her dad was a member of the RAF, seeking to provide for his young family.

"The Provisional IRA were not fighting any noble cause. This was the action of terrorists with the objective of overthrowing the Northern Ireland state."

No one was ever charged with the murders, which were carried out during a three-year period when the IRA escalated attacks on soft target military personnel stationed in mainland Europe.

The main suspect, Desmond Grew, was one of two IRA members killed by the SAS in Armagh a year later while he was wanted for questioning over the murders. At his funeral Gerry Adams pronounced Grew "a freedom fighter, a patriot and a decent upstanding Irish citizen".

Smita was seen by rescuers sitting by the car, cradling her dead baby in her arms. At the time a German bystander said: "She refused to let it go. She sat on a chair, wrapped in a blanket, clutching the little child; it was horrific."

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