Five things to know about Ripudaman Singh Malik
Ripudaman Singh Malik, an accused in the 1985 Air India bombing who was acquitted in 2005, was shot dead in Surrey in Canada on Thursday morning. Here are five things to know about him.
1. Ripudaman Singh Malik , 75, was one of the accused in the 1985 bombing of Air India’s Flight 182 Kanishka that killed 331 people, mostly from the Toronto and Vancouver areas. Canadian investigators believed a suitcase bomb was loaded onto a plane at Vancouver International Airport and then transferred in Toronto to Air India Flight 182 which exploded off the coast of Ireland, killing 329 passengers and crew. Malik and his co-accused, Ajaib Singh Bagri, were acquitted in 2005 of mass murder and conspiracy charges. Malik spent four years in prison before his acquittal. He then sought $9.2 million as legal fees but a British Columbia judge rejected his claims for compensation.
2. Ripudaman Malik was allegedly associated with Babbar Khalsa, a terrorist outfit responsible for many terrorist incidents in Punjab. He was also a close associate of Talwinder Singh Parmar, the alleged mastermind of the Air India bombing, who headed one of the Babbar Khalsa factions before being killed by the Punjab Police in 1992. Two of Parmar’s relatives used to work in one of Malik’s schools
3. Malik came to Canada in 1972 and started off as a cab driver. Later, as a successful
businessman, he went on to become the President of a 16,000-member Vancouver based Khalsa Credit Union (KCU) with assets worth over $110 million. Malik was the president of Satnam Education Society of B.C., Canada, and ran Khalsa schools, which besides teaching the Canadian syllabus, also taught Punjabi language and Sikh history.
4. Malik had visited India in December 2019 after 25 years following the Modi government’s decision to remove his name from the blacklist. The Indian government had removed 312 names of Sikhs living abroad from the 35-year-old blacklist in September 2019.
5. Before the assembly elections in February this year, Malik had written a letter to PM Narendra Modi, thanking him for the steps taken for the welfare of the Sikhs. His letter listed the the various pro-Sikh initiatives taken by the BJP government, including reopening of the 1984 riots cases. In a separate message, he had warned against indulging in a “nefarious campaign” against the PM and had hinted that it was being orchestrated by a foreign power. Later, the BJP had referred to his letter on their home page along with his picture at the Golden Temple during his visit in 2019.
In his letter to Modi on January 17, Malik had expressed his “deep heartfelt gratitude for the unprecedent positive steps taken by yourself to redress long-pending Sikh demands & grievances”.
Written on the letterhead of ‘Satnam Education Society of B.C. (read British Columbia)’ as its president, Malik had added in the letter that “I may kindly be excused if I have missed out on other decision of yours addressing Sikh issues.”
He had also written, “While appreciating wholeheartedly your Government for the above-listed positive steps to sincerely address grievances and demands of Sikh community, I am concerned at an orchestrated campaign by some misguided members of my community against you in person and India at large. I have separately appealed them to desist from the vicious and motivated campaign ostensibly by their own but actually at the behest of some foreign powers interested in destabilizing India and challenging India’s national integrity and instead be appreciative of the unprecedented positive gestures made by your government. I look forward to personally work together with your government and have also appealed members of my community to engage with the government for redressal of pending issues of concern to Sikhs in a democratic way, if any.”
He had further written, “I take this opportunity to personally and on behalf of my community thank you for your benevolence as also to reiterate my heartfelt gratitude to Your Excellency. We pray for Your Excellency’s long and healthy life.”