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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Man acquitted in Air India bombings shot to death in Canada

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SURREY, British Columbia — A man acquitted in a terrorist bombing that killed 329 people aboard an Air India flight in 1985 was the person slain Thursday in what Canadian authorities described as a possible targeted shooting, his family said.

Jaspreet Malik confirmed the death of his father, Ripudaman Singh Malik, in a statement on social media Thursday.

“The media will always refer to him as someone charged with the Air India bombing,” the son wrote on Facebook. “The media and RCMP never seemed to accept the court’s decision and I pray today’s tragedy is not related.”

Malik and his co-accused, Ajaib Singh Bagri, were found not guilty in March 2005 of murder and conspiracy in a pair of Air India bombings that killed 331 people on June 23, 1985.

A witness who works a car wash in Surrey said he heard shots Thursday morning and ran outside to find Malik unconscious in his car.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said in a news release that a man died in what appeared to be a targeted attack, but they did not identify the victim. Police said a vehicle believed to be used in the shooting was found engulfed in fire a few blocks away.

“The investigation is in the early stages and police are still looking for the suspects and a second vehicle that may have been used as getaway vehicle,” police said in a statement.

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.

About an hour later, a bomb destined for another Air India plane exploded prematurely at Tokyo’s Narita Airport, where two baggage handlers died.

Inderjit Singh Reyat, the only man convicted in the bombings, testified for the prosecution at Malik and Bagri’s trial and was later convicted of perjury.

Deepak Khandelwal of Oakville, Ontario, said the shooting “just brings back all the horrible memories we’d had to go through for the last 37 years.”

He was 17 when his sisters, 21-year-old Chandra and 19-year-old Manju, were killed on Flight 182.

“It’s like a nightmare that never stops giving,” he said.

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