OTTAWA, July 15 — An acquitted suspect in the 1985 Air India bombings that killed 331 people was shot dead Thursday in an apparent targeted shooting in westernmost Canada, local media reported.
Ripudaman Singh Malik, a one-time supporter of the Sikh separatist Khalistan movement who was in 2005 acquitted in the Air India mass murder plot for lack of evidence, was reportedly shot outside his clothing business in the area of Vancouver, British Columbia.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police would not confirm the victim’s name, but said in a statement that a man was found “suffering from gunshot wounds” and had “succumbed to his injuries (at the) scene.”
“This appears to be a targeted shooting,” said Constable Sarbjit Sangha, adding that a vehicle believed to have been driven by the shooters was located a few kilometers (miles) away “fully engulfed in fire.”
After setting the blaze, it’s likely the shooters fled in another getaway vehicle that police are now searching for, she said.
The bombing of Air India Flight 182 off the coast of Ireland that killed all 329 passengers and crew had been the deadliest act of airborne terrorism prior to the September 11 attacks in the United States.
It came as another bomb exploded at Japan’s Narita airport, killing two workers who were loading baggage onto an Air India flight.
Both suitcase bombs were later traced back to Vancouver, home to a large Sikh immigrant population.
Inderjit Singh Reyat is the only person to have been convicted in the plot, for making the bombs and for lying at the trials of fellow militants, one of whom was Malik.
Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri were acquitted in 2005 in a verdict that prosecutors said would have been different if Reyat had told the truth on the stand.
Reyat was paroled in 2016 after serving two decades behind bars.
The attack took place during an Indian crackdown on Sikhs fighting for an independent homeland, and those behind it were reportedly seeking revenge for the storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar by Indian troops. — AFP