An elderly B.C. Sikh man has been gunned down 17 years after he was acquitted on charges of mass murder.
Businessman Ripudaman Singh Malik was shot in the Newton area of Surrey.
CBC News reported that a witness pulled a bleeding Malik from a red Tesla before police showed up. Another witness from a business in the 8200 block of 128 Street told CBC that Malik was the victim.
In 2005, Malik and his co-accused, Ajaib Singh Bagri, were acquitted on 329 charges of first-degree murder in connection with the bombing of Air India Flight 182 in 1985.
In addition, Malik and Bagri were acquitted in the deaths of two Japanese baggage handlers at Narita Airport in a separate bombing incident targeting an Air India jet.
Malik was the long-time chair and cofounder of the Khalsa Credit Union. He played a pivotal role in the creation of the Khalsa school and is listed on the website as being a member of the board of trustees in 2020-21.
In 2019, Straight contributor Gurpreet Singh reported that the Indian government had granted Malik a visa to allow him to visit India.
In an interview in December 2019 on Chardikala Time TV, Malik's brother credited Samant Goel, head of India's spy agency, the Research and Analysis Wing, for ensuring that Malik could visit the country.
Last year in advance of elections in Punjab, Malik wrote a letter praising Indian prime minister Narendra Modi for how he had been dealing with the Sikh community.
Last month on Straight.com, Singh wrote a column questioning why there wasn't more outrage in the Sikh community over Malik's assistance to Modi, given that a B.C. Supreme Court justice, Ian Bruce Josephson, had declared in 1985 that Malik's acquittal "was not a declaration of innocence".
"To put things in perspective, the Indian government’s decision to give a visa to Malik might have to do something with the shrewd politics of Modi to create a wedge between Muslims and Sikhs in places like Canada, where the two communities have come together to challenge ultra-Hindu nationalism," Singh wrote.
There have been several books written about the bombing of Air India Flight 182, which have offered different interpretations of Malik's role.
Vancouver Sun reporter Kim Bolan's Loss of Faith: How the Air-India Bombers Got Away With Murder devoted enormous attention to the Crown's key witness against Malik, a woman identified as "Ms. D", who worked at the Khalsa school.
The judge, Josephson, concluded that this witness was not credible in part because she claimed to continue loving Malik after he had fired her. Bolan, on the other hand, made the case that women have been known to remain in relationships with men who commit horrible crimes.
Another book by former Province reporters Salim Jiwa and Don Hauka offered a more sympathetic view of Malik. In Margin of Terror: A Reporter's Twenty-Year Odyssey Covering the Tragedies of the Air India Bombing, they largely endorsed the judge's findings, including his conclusion that the star witness was not credible.
Jiwa and Hauka focused considerable attention on a former school janitor and alleged plotter named Hardial Singh Johal. The authors noted that the Indian government gave him a visa to travel to India following the bombing, whereas Malik was prohibited from returning to his country of birth for decades.
A third book, Soft Target: India's Intelligence Service and Its Role in the Air India Disaster, pointed the finger at the Research and Analysis Wing's efforts to discredit the Sikh community in Canada. Written by former Globe and Mail reporter Zuhair Kashmeri and former Toronto Star reporter Brian McAndrew, it reported Malik's claim that he was not an enemy of the government of India and, in fact, was a friend of a former consul general in Vancouver named Jagdish Sharma.
"CSIS had no evidence to link Malik with the Air-India bombings, but Pat Olsen and Fred Gibson [pseudonyms for anonymous CSIS sources] confirmed that his dual allegiances helped the agency develop the theory that the Indian government had a hand in carrying out the double sabotage," Kashmeri and McAndrew wrote. "In the fall of 1985, CSIS had viewed the Babbar Khalsa as the biggest security threat among Sikhs in Canada. Now it suddenly discovered that the Babbar Khalsa had links with the government of India. As a result, Olsen said, CSIS agents were not surprised that [Babbar Khalsa head Talwinder Singh] Parmar's associates could visit India with ease despite his fiery views about Khalistan."
That statement was not attributed to anyone by name. But Soft Target fuelled suspicions among some in Canada's Sikh community that the extremist Babbar Khalsa group, which was blamed for the bombings, was secretly nurtured by the Indian government as a counterweight to a separatist movement in India led by Sikh preacher Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.
The Indian government and its supporters have adamantly objected to this theory.
The World Sikh Organization asked the Air India inquiry commissioner, former Supreme Court of Canada justice John Major, if Kashmeri could testify. Major refused that request before issuing his final report in 2010.