Acquitted suspect of Air India bombing shot dead
One of the alleged terrorists who was acquitted of taking down an Air India flight with a suitcase bomb in 1985, killing 329 people, has been fatally shot in Canada in what police say was likely a targeted murder.
Ripudaman Singh Malik, 75, was shot on Thursday morning in Surrey, British Columbia, and died at the scene, according to police. A witness told Canada’s CBC News that he heard three shots, then pulled Malik from his red Tesla. The victim was bleeding from a neck wound.
“We are aware of Mr. Malik’s background, though at this time we are still working to determine the motive,” homicide investigators said in a statement. “We can confirm that the shooting appears to be targeted, and there is not believed to be any further risk to the public.”
Malik, a Sikh businessman who immigrated to Canada in 1972, was one of the suspects accused of bombing an Air India flight that originated in Toronto and blew up off the coast of Ireland while in route to London. The incident marked Canada’s deadliest terrorist attack on record. Another bomb destined for a separate Air India flight exploded at an airport in Tokyo, killing two baggage handlers and bringing the total death toll to 331. Over 80 of the victims were children.
Prosecutors alleged that the bombings were carried out by Sikh extremists in British Columbia who targeted state-owned Air India as retribution for a June 1984 raid on the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab. The raid, which was reportedly done to flush out separatists, left about 400 people dead and enraged Sikhs, who accused the Indian government of desecrating their holiest shrine.
Malik and an alleged accomplice, Ajaib Singh Bagri, were acquitted of mass murder and conspiracy in 2005, after a trial that stretched on for two years. The only suspect found guilty of the Air India attack, Inderjit Singh Reyat, testified against Malik and Bagri and was later convicted of perjury.
Malik’s son, Jaspreet Singh Malik, lamented that media outlets and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) always looked at his father as an accused Air India bomber. “He was wrongly charged, and the court concluded there was no evidence against him,” the younger Malik said. “The media and RCMP never seemed to accept the court’s decision, and I pray today’s tragedy is not related.”
The senior Malik initially worked as a cab driver after moving to Canada. He later went on to lead British Columbia’s Khalsa Credit Union and Khalsa Schools. The latter, which teach the Punjabi language and Sikh history along with the standard Canadian curriculum, were criticized for continuing to receive government funding after Malik was arrested as an accused Air India bomber in October 2000.