Who is Ripudaman Singh Malik? Multi-millionaire killed in British Columbia acquitted of Air India attack

Ripudaman Singh Malik, who was shot dead Thursday in Surrey, British Columbia, was a multi-millionaire businessman and Sikh separatist who was acquitted of the 1985 Air India terrorist bombings, the worst mass murder in the Canada.

In 2005, Malik was acquitted of murder and conspiracy in two bombs targeting Air India planes. One destroyed Air India Flight 182 over the Atlantic Ocean on June 23, 1985, killing 329 people, mostly from Toronto and Vancouver; a second bomb, intended for another flight, exploded at Tokyo airport and killed two baggage handlers.

The bombings were considered the deadliest terrorist attack in the world until the September 11 attacks by al-Qaeda and remain the worst mass murder in Canada.

Malik was 75 when he was shot.

Malik emigrated from India to Canada in 1972 and worked first as a taxi driver before becoming a successful businessman in British Columbia.

He enjoyed success in banking, as president of the Vancouver area branch of the Khalsa Credit Union, and ran Khalsa schools, in reference to the community of members of the Sikh religion.

Malik became an influential figure in the Sikh separatist movement in British Columbia.

The Canadian government said the bombings were a terrorist attack targeting India’s national airline in revenge for the Indian government ordering a deadly 1984 military raid on the Golden Temple in Amritsar, India , the holiest spiritual site in Sikhism.

Fifteen years after the bombings, Malik and his co-defendant, Ajaib Singh Bagri, were arrested and charged with 331 counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy.

After months of testimony in a highly publicized trial, British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Ian Josephson deemed key Crown witnesses unreliable and acquitted them.

After his acquittal, Malik demanded that the government reimburse him $9.2 million in legal fees he spent defending himself, but the judge overseeing the trial denied the request.

“There is no suggestion of willful misconduct on the part of the Crown,” Josephson said in 2012.

The Air India investigation concluded that Talwinder Singh Parmar, a Canadian-Sikh activist who founded Babbar Khalsa, a designated terrorist organization fighting for an independent Sikh country called Khalistan, was behind the plot. Parmer was shot dead in 1992 by Indian police.

After the acquittal, Malik maintained his influence within his community and tried to use it to build political ties with politicians.

In the 2011 federal election, for example, Malik supported the Conservative candidate who then ousted former BC premier and federal Liberal cabinet minister Ujjal Dosanjh.

More recently, he has continued to influence politics in India.

He was able to return to India in 2019 after Narendra Modi’s government removed him from the blacklist of people banned from entering the country because of their separatist activities.

This year, before the Indian elections, Malik sent a letter to Modi, dated January 17, on letterhead from his school in Surrey, the Satnam Education Society of BC, signing it as president and saying that spoke “in the name of my community”.

In it, he thanked the prime minister and his Bharatiya Janata party for its “unprecedented positive steps…to address long-standing Sikh demands and grievances.” He said he was working to prevent members of his community from criticizing the prime minister.

“I look forward to working personally with your government,” he concluded. BJP officials widely circulated Malik’s letter.

Malik’s public support for an Indian national politician is said to have upset many Sikh nationalists.

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