Ripudaman Singh Malik, acquitted in Air India bombings, shot dead in Surrey, B.C.

Ripudaman Singh Malik, one of two men acquitted in the 1985 Air India terrorist bombings, has been shot to death in Surrey, B.C.

A witness in the 8200-block of 128 Street told CBC he heard three shots and that Malik was hit in the neck. A second witness from a nearby business confirmed Malik’s identity.

Surrey RCMP said a man was shot at that location at around 9:30 a.m. PT and succumbed to his injuries at the scene. They say it appears to be a targeted shooting and are not releasing the victim’s name.

A suspect vehicle was located in the 12200-block of 82 Avenue engulfed in fire, according to police.

Malik, who was in his mid-70s, owned a business in the area.

A red Tesla believed to have belonged to the victim is seen after the shooting in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Malik and co-accused Ajaib Singh Bagri were acquitted in 2005 of mass murder and conspiracy charges related to a pair of bombings in 1985 that killed 331 people, mostly from the Toronto and Vancouver areas.

Of those who died, 329 were aboard Air India Flight 182 when it exploded in mid-air over the Atlantic Ocean on June 23, 1985. Another bomb destined for a separate flight exploded at a Tokyo airport, killing two baggage handlers.

The killings amounted to the worst mass murder in Canadian history. Among the dead were 280 Canadians and 86 children.

Malik, a successful businessman with significant influence among Canadian Sikhs, sued after his acquittal in an effort to get back $9.2 million in legal fees. He claimed the Crown knew the case fell short of standards, but turned a blind eye and pursued the case regardless under pressure from the public.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge rejected Malik’s financial claim in July 2012. 

In recent years, Malik served as chairman with Khalsa School and managed two of the private schools’ campuses in Surrey and Vancouver. He was also president of the Vancouver-based Khalsa Credit Union (KCU), which has more than 16,000 members.

Only one man was convicted in relation to the 1985 bombings. Inderjit Singh Reyat served 30 years for lying during two trials, including Malik’s, and for helping to make the bombs at his home in Duncan, B.C.

Crown lawyers alleged the bombing was a terrorist attack against state-owned Air India, an act of revenge by B.C.-based Sikh extremists against the Indian government for ordering the army to raid Sikhism’s holiest shrine, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, in June 1984.

Malik, then 58, and Bagri, then 55, were acquitted after a highly publicized trial that stretched on for two years.

In the end, Justice Ian Josephson found the Crown’s key witnesses, who testified that they heard the two defendants confess, were biased and unreliable. 

Police at the scene of a shooting in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday. Ripudaman Singh Malik, one of the co-accused in the 1985 Air India bombings, was killed in the shooting. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

“These hundreds of men, women and children were entirely innocent victims of a diabolical act of terrorism unparalleled until recently in aviation history,” reads the March 16, 2005 ruling. “Justice is not achieved, however, if persons are convicted on anything less than the requisite standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” 

The national Air India inquiry later concluded Talwinder Singh Parmar was the mastermind behind the deadly mid-air bombing. Parmar, 48, was shot and killed by police in India in 1992.

Another suspect, Hardial Singh Johal, died in November 2002.

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