Two Sikh Men Arrested in Canada, Charged with 1985 Air India Blast
After a 15-year investigation, the Canadian authorities have arrested and charged two Sikh men with killing 329 people aboard an Air India flight that exploded off the coast of Ireland in 1985.
The two men, Ripudaman Singh Malik, 53, and Ajaib Singh Bagri, 51, were arrested here Friday, said Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) spokeswoman Cate Galliford, who added that police expect to make further arrests.
Air India Flight 182 left Toronto on June 23, 1985, stopped in Montreal and was en route to New Delhi and Bombay when it exploded.
In the course of their 20-million US dollar investigation, Canadian police had determined that the Boeing 747 was brought down by a bomb that had been checked onto a Canadian airline flight at the Vancouver airport by a Canadian of Sikh origin.
The bag was transferred to the doomed Flight 182 in Toronto.
Ripudaman Singh, a wealthy Vancouver businessman, is linked to a Sikh fundamentalist group. Sagri was aide to the Sikh extremist leader Talwinder Singh Parmar, a former Vancouver resident killed by Indian anti-terrorist forces on October 15, 1992, according to police.
The two suspects were also charged with the murder of two baggage handlers at Tokyo's Narita airport, killed the same day in 1985 when a suitcase due to be loaded on to another Air India flight exploded prematurely.
In addition, the men are charged with the attempted murder of the passengers on that flight, Air India's Flight 301, which was headed from Tokyo to Bangkok.
Police had already established a link between the two attacks.
"The RCMP allege that both bombs originated or were placed on respective flights originating from Vancouver, British Columbia, as a result of an alleged conspiracy taking place in part in the province of British Columbia," according to RCMP spokeswoman, Beverly Busson.
Police suspicions have long rested on radical elements of Vancouver's Sikh community, where around half of Canada's 200,000 Sikhs live.
Some Sikhs want to set up an independent state in the Indian Punjab.
The presumed terrorists are believed to have been seeking revenge for the deaths of more than 1,000 Sikhs at the hands of Indian troops in the June 1984 Amritsar Golden Temple massacre.
Both the late Sikh leader Parmar, and another Sikh-Canadian, Inderjit Singh Reyat, are named as accomplices in the plot to blow up Flight 301.
Reyat is currently serving a 10-year sentence, imposed in 1991, for manufacturing the bomb intended to blow up Air India's Tokyo-Bangkok flight -- VANCOUVER, Canada (AFP)
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