VANCOUVER – Inderjit Singh Reyat, a 51-year-old who holds dual British and Canadian citizenship, has now accepted he aided and abetted those responsible for carrying out history’s worst bomb explosion aboard a civilian plane.
Reyat stood silently in a Vancouver court and offered a guilty plea to a single count of the manslaughter of 329 people who perished aboard Air India Flight 182 when the jet exploded over the Atlantic some 200 kilometres off the coast of Ireland on June 23, 1985.
His lawyer, David Gibbons, told court Reyat was sorrowful about the deaths which occurred as a result of his procurement of bomb making parts which allowed others to make the explosive device.
Reyat was sentenced to an additional five years in prison. He was sentenced to ten years in 1991 after being convicted of two counts of manslaughter in relation to the bomb explosion at Tokyo’s Narita Airport on the same day that Air India Flight 182 blew up.
The bomb explosion in Tokyo killed two Japanese baggage handlers.
Evidence submitted in the Narita-Tokyo bombings showed Reyat demonstrated a bush experiment in explosives to Babbar Khalsa terrorist group leader Talwinder Singh Parmar on June 4, 1985 – just 18 days before the bombings. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service said at the time that it was following Parmar when Reyat, Parmar and a third man went to bush areas near Duncan on Vancouver Island. There, agents heard a loud explosion and later checks by the RCMP confirmed a small bomb went off in the bush.
It was also proven at that time that Reyat obtained substantial amounts of dynamite, bought two Radio Shack electronic timers, batteries and other bomb-making parts during the days leading up to the twin bombings.
There was also evidence that on the day the two bag bombs were checked in at Vancouver Airport on June 22, 1985, Reyat had traveled to Vancouver from his Duncan home. There were multiple telephone calls between Reyat’s home and the home of Hardial Singh Johal – a former president of the Vancouver Sikh Temple who was arrested twice during the Royal Columbian Mounted Police investigation into the bombings.
A telephone number related to Johal had turned up on ticket bookings for two Singhs who failed to board their flights out of Vancouver after checking in their bags.
Parmar, the founder of the Babbar Khalsa terrorist group, was killed during an encounter with Indian police in October 1992 inside the Punjab.
Johal, an associate of Parmar and Reyat, recently died of natural causes before he could be brought to justice.
Reyat will have effectively served a life sentence when he completes the latest five years added on to his sentence for his role in the Air India bombing. He has been in custody since 1988 when he was picked up in England.
The crown – which continues to prosecute Sikh preacher Ajaib Singh Bagri and Vancouver millionaire Ripudaman Singh Malik on charges connected to the Air India bombing – is now free to call Reyat as a witness in the ongoing court cases
Written by Salim Jiwa
Author of “The Death of Air india Flight 182”