Indian man acquitted in 1985 Air India bombing in Ireland shot dead

A man acquitted over the bombing of a 1985 Air India flight from Montreal to Mumbai has been killed in Canada, in what police believe was a targeted shooting.

A man acquitted in a terrorist bombing that killed 331 people aboard an Air India flight in 1985 was killed Thursday in Canada, in what Canadian police described as a possible targeted shooting.

The death of Ripudaman Singh Malik was confirmed by Jaspreet Malik, his son, in a statement on Facebook. He was shot outside his clothing business in Surrey, British Columbia.

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

A witness who works at a car wash told authorities he heard shots on Thursday morning, and ran outside to find Malik unconscious in his car.

Police in Surrey said in a news release that a man died in what appeared to be a targeted attack, but did not confirm the victim’s identity.

“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.

Malik and another accused, Ajaib Singh Bagri, were found not guilty in March 2005 of murder and conspiracy in a pair of Air India bombings on June 23, 1985. Malik, a one-time supporter of the Sikh separatist Khalistan movement, was acquitted due to a lack of evidence.

Irish naval authorities bring ashore debris after the Air India Boeing 747 crash in Cork in June 1985. Picture: Andre Durand/AFP/Getty Images

The bombing of Air India Flight 182 off the coast of Ireland that killed all 329 passengers and crew had been the deadliest act of air terrorism, prior to the September 11 attacks in the US.

Inderjit Singh Reyat is the only person to have been convicted in the plot, for making the bombs and for lying at the trials of others accused, one of whom was Malik.

Reyat was paroled in 2016 after serving two decades behind bars.

The attack took place during an Indian crackdown on the Sikh movement for an independent homeland. Those behind it were believed to be seeking revenge for the storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar by Indian troops.

A memorial garden in Ahakista, West Cork was established to in memory of those who died on board Air India flight 182 and has since become a cherished place for families to visit and remember their loved ones, with relatives visiting the site on the anniversary.

AP, Reuters

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