VANCOUVER – He continues to be in denial of his full role in making the bombs that cost a total of 331 lives but Inderjit Singh Reyat still gets a card to get out of jail in five years or less.
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. But now he says he did not make any bombs. And he also does not know who made them.
He claims he gave bomb-making parts to someone else. We believe that is a misleading statement and flies in the face of all the evidence accumulated by police in a 17-year investigation.
And his continued denial of his role in making the bomb or even knowing that anyone planned to blow up two Air India planes in different parts of the world is unlikely to help the crown even if he is called as a witness, Flight182.com believes.
A man who allows a court to be misled once is unlikely to help the crown in any future auctions. He has relied on his interviews in Nov. 1985 with the police to accept that he was asked to make bombs by Talwinder Singh Parmar – chief of the Babbar Khalsa terrorist group. These bombs Parmar wanted were alleged to be used to blow up bridges, or a car or something “heavy” in India. A car bomb? That has never surfaced as an idea in our minds.
And of course, Reyat had no idea whether the bombs would be sent to India by airplane or by ship or on the backs of some mules.
As well, his denials fly in the face of the following facts that show that a reasonable jury, properly instructed, would have most likely convicted him of knowingly participating in a plot to blow up two Air India jets on the ground.
- He purchased the tuner that blew up in Tokyo on June 23, 1985 en-route to being boarded on Air India Flight 301. He bought it at a Woolworth store in Duncan, BC, where he lived.
- He bought two Micronta electronic timer devices from Radio Shack.
- He even convinced his friend Ken Slade to give him dynamite. Slade had no idea what Reyat intended to do and fully believed what Reyat told him – that they would be used to clear some land.
- He purchased or acquired a green tape of the type found in the Tokyo bomb.
- Police found gunpowder and dynamite in his home after the Air India explosion.
- A total of nine items that were found in the Tokyo bomb were similar to items he had acquired.
- On June 4, 1985, he took Parmar to a bush area near Duncan on Vancouver Island and demonstrated his ability to detonate an explosive.
- He watched demolitions and suggested he could make remote control devices to cause detonation.
- He acquired a manual on blasting.
- He traveled from Vancouver Island to Vancouver one day before the bombs were to be boarded on flights leaving from Vancouver.
- And as one bomb was being boarded in Vancouver, Reyat purchased a battery at an auto-electric store in Vancouver on Saturday, June 22, 1985. He even asked for an employee discount.
Police have never found another man with any bomb-making know-how despite a 17-year investigation of Reyat’s links. If another man-made the bombs, why would he not get his own parts? Why would Reyat have to buy them?
Despite all this evidence, the crown allowed Reyat to plead guilty to manslaughter and all he gets to spend in jail is five years. He would be eligible for parole in 18 months.
The deal was made official on Monday as 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 kilometers off the coast of Ireland on June 23, 1985.
His lawyer, David Gibbons, told the court Reyat was sorrowful about the deaths which occurred as a result of his procurement of bomb-making parts that allowed others to make the explosive device. We did not hear of this alleged sorrow from Reyat’s mouth – but we saw him pumping hands and smiling.
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. At that time the crown absolutely and categorically asserted Reyat made the bomb. That the bomb contained his signature – a can of automotive starting fluid. Reyat was a mechanic.
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 explosive went off in the bush.
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 Canadian 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 Punjab.
Johal, an associate of Parmar and Reyat, recently died of natural causes before he could be brought to justice.
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.
But it is our opinion that a man who is in denial is unlikely to be a reliable witness. He can always blame dead people.
Written by Salim Jiwa
Author of “The Death of Air India Flight 182”