Ripudaman Singh Malik, who was shot dead in Canada on Friday, was the acquitted suspect in the 1985 Air India bombings. He was shot dead in an apparent target killing while on his way to his office. He was the founder of Khalsa Credit Union in Vancouver. In 2005, Malik was acquitted in the Air India mass murder case because of the lack of evidence against him. He was also reportedly a one-time supporter of the Sikh separatist Khalistan movement. In a statement, the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said: “We are aware of Mr Malik’s background, though at this time we are still working to determine the motive. We can confirm that the shooting appears to be targeted and there is not believed to be any further risk to the public.”
The 1985 Air India bombing is among the worst terrorist attacks in Canadian history and in the history of the airline.
On June 23, 1985, Air India flight 182, carrying 329 people, including 268 Canadian citizens and 24 Indian citizens, flew from Toronto and stopped in Montreal from where it was en route to London and then onwards to its final destination Bombay.
The plane was flying 31,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean when a suitcase bomb exploded in the front cargo, killing all on board.
In Malik’s trial, British Columbia Supreme Court heard that a suitcase bomb was loaded onto a plane at Vancouver’s airport and then transferred in Toronto to Air India Flight 182. The aircraft crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Ireland, killing 329 passengers and crew.
Another bomb was meant to be planted in an Air India flight scheduled to take off from Japan but it exploded at Tokyo’s Narita airport killing two baggage handlers.
The CBC News report said that reaction to Malik’s death was mixed. While Malik’s friends said they lost a hero of the Sikh community, former British Columbia premier Ujjal Dosanjh, a former acquaintance of Malik’s, said he was a controversial figure.
(With inputs from agencies)