Ripudaman Singh Malik, an accused in one of the modern world’s first terrorist acts, the bombing of an Air India (AI) flight on June 23, 1985 known as the Kanishka Bombing which killed all the 329 people on board is shot dead in British Columbia, Canada.
Malik was acquitted in court in 2005 after an investigation carried out by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in conjunction with police authorities in India, North America, Europe and Asia. Two arrested Sikh terrorists had identified as Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri as conspirators along with Talwinder Singh Parmar and Inderjit Singh Reyat.
The mid-air explosion of Kanishk, taking off from Toronto with a brief stopover at Montreal en route to New Delhi, occurred on the coast of Ireland while it was preparing to land at the Heathrow airport.
The bomb passed through the security-check at the Vancouver airport onto a Canadian Pacific airline. One of the two suitcases was transferred in Toronto to AI flight 182. The other suitcase was to have been transferred to an AI flight from Japan to India, but the bomb exploded prematurely at the Narita airport in Tokyo killing two baggage handlers.
The bombs were planted in revenge for 1984 ‘Operation Blue Star’, the Canadian authorities believed. It was established that the bombing was the handiwork of Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), a terrorist outfit in Punjab.
Ripudaman Singh Malik, a close associate of Talwinder Singh Parmar was based in British Columbia and belonged to Babbar Khalsa. Malik came to Canada in 1972 and started off as a cab driver to later became a wealthy businessman.
Malik was at one time the President of a 16,000-member Vancouver based Khalsa Credit Union (KCU). He managed two Khalsa educational institutions. KCU was raided extensively in the past by the Canadian authorities, to scrutinize the activities of the International Sikh Youth Federation who held their meetings at the KCU-affiliated Khalsa school. Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri belonged to the fundamentalist wing of the Sikh community in Canada. They also waged violent clash with the more moderate functions of Canadian Sikhs for the control of lucrative gurudwaras.
In January 2022, Ripudaman Malik was in the headlines in India for praising PM for Sikh community initiatives.In a letter written to Narendra Modi, he said “ I am concerned at an orchestrated campaign by some misguided members of my community against you in person and India at large.”