Air India Flight 182

From Academic Kids

Air India Flight 182 was a Boeing 747 that was bombed on June 23, 1985 while at an altitude 31,000 feet (9500 m) above the Atlantic Ocean, south of Ireland; all 329 on board were killed, of whom 82 were children and 280 were Canadian citizens. The bombing was the single largest terrorist attack before those of September 11, 2001, and the largest mass murder in Canadian history. It occurred within an hour of the Narita Airport Bombing.

The Air India B747-237B “Emperor Kanishka” (registered VT-EFO) flew on a Montréal-Mirabel International Airport, – London Heathrow AirportIndira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi – Sahar International Airport (now Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport), Bombay (now Mumbai) route.

The Canadian government's trial of those accused of the bombing, Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri, is known as the Air India Trial. The investigation and prosecution took almost 20 years and was the costliest in Canadian history at nearly CAD $130 million. On March 16, 2005, the accused were found not guilty by Justice Ian Josephson in British Columbia and were released.

The only person convicted of any involvement in the bombing was Inderjit Singh Reyat. On February 10, 2003 Reyat pled guilty to constructing the bomb used on Flight 182 and received a ten year sentence.


Incident timeline

On June 20, 1985, at 0100 GMT, a man calling himself Mr. Singh made reservations for two flights on June 22: one for "Jaswand Singh" to fly from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Montreal on Canadian Pacific Air Lines (CP) 086, and one for "Mohinderbel Singh" to fly from Vancouver to Tokyo on CP 003, and to there connect with Air India flight 301 to Bangkok.

At 0220 GMT on the same day, another call was made, changing the reservation in the name of "Jaswand Singh" from CP 086 to CP 060 (flying from Vancouver to Toronto, Ontario). The caller also requested to be wait-listed on Air India 181/182 from Toronto to Delhi.

At 1910 GMT, a man paid for the two tickets with $3,005 in cash at a CP ticket office in Vancouver. The names on the reservations were changed; "Jaswand Singh" became "M. Singh" and "Mohinderbel Singh" became "L. Singh."

On June 22, 1985, at 1330 GMT, a man calling himself Manjit Singh called to confirm his reservations on Air India flight 181/182. He was told he was still wait-listed, and was offered alternate arrangements, which he declined.

The Air India 182 bomb

At 1550 GMT on June 22, "Mr. Singh" checked in at Vancouver Airport for CP Air Flight 60 to Toronto. He was assigned seat 10B. Singh requested that his suitcase, a dark brown, hard-sided Samsonite suitcase, be transferred to Flight 182. CP Agent Jeannie Adams initially refused his request to inter-line the baggage, since his seat from Toronto to Delhi was unconfirmed, but later relented. [1] (

At 1618 GMT, the CP Air flight to Toronto Airport departed without Mr. Singh.

At 2022 GMT, CP Air Flight 60 arrived in Toronto 12 minutes late. Some of the passengers and baggage, including the bag Mr. Singh checked in, were transferred to the Air India flight. Other passengers and baggage from Air Canada Flight 136, which also came from Vancouver, were handled as well.

At 0015 GMT (now June 23), Flight 181 departed Toronto for Montreal-Mirabel 1 hour and 40 minutes late. The aircraft was late as a "5th pod,” a spare engine, was installed below the left wing. The defective engine was being flown to India for repairs. It arrived at Mirabel at 0100 GMT. In Montreal, the Air India flight became Flight 182.

At 0715 GMT, Air India Flight 182, which had departed Mirabel bound for London, disappeared. Air traffic controllers at Shannon International Airport in Shannon, Ireland heard a crackling sound on the radio before the plane vanished. The plane was supposed to arrive at 0815 GMT.

A bomb located in the forward cargo hold had exploded while the plane was in mid-flight at 31,000 ft. The bomb caused rapid decompression, and consequent in-flight breakup. The wreckage settled in 2000 m deep water off the south-west Irish coast 180 miles offshore of County Cork.

The bombing killed 22 flight crew and 307 passengers, including 82 minors. According the County Cork Coroner’s report some of the deceased had survived the explosion and the fall but drowned in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Narita Airport bomb

On June 22, 1985, the bags of a passenger named L. Singh were checked in at Vancouver for CP Air 003 to New Tokyo International Airport (now Narita International Airport) in Narita, Japan, near Tokyo. This bag was interlined to Air India Flight 301 leaving for Bangkok International Airport in Bangkok, Thailand. L. Singh was assigned seat 38H.

At 2037 GMT, Empress of Australia 747, registered C-FCRD, flying CP Flight 3, departed Vancouver without L. Singh on board.

At 0541 GMT (now June 23), Empress of Australia (CP Air 3) arrived in Tokyo 14 minutes early.

At 0619 GMT, a piece of luggage that had come from CP Air 3 exploded as it was being transferred to Air India Flight 301; the explosion killed two of the baggage handlers in Narita and injured four other people.

At 0805 GMT, Air India 747 Flight 301 left Narita and arrived in Thailand unscathed.

The Suspects

The main suspects in the bombing were the members of a Sikh terrorist group operating in Canada called the Babbar Khalsa. The Babbar Khalsa was devoted to creating a Sikh state called Khalistan in the Punjab. On November 6, 1985 the RCMP raided the homes of the suspected Sikh terrorists, Talwinder Singh Parmar, Inderjit Singh Reyat. Surjan Singh Gill, Hardial Singh Johal, and Manmohan Singh.

Talwinder Singh Parmar was a naturalized Canadian citizen living in British Columbia and was wanted for extradition to India for his role in activities in the Punjab including the murder of two Police officers. On March 5, 1985, three months before the bombing, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) had obtained permission to tap Parmar’s phone on the basis that he was the leader of the terrorist organization, the Babbar Khalsa [2] (

Inderjit Singh Reyat was living in Duncan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, and working as an auto mechanic and electrician.

Surjan Singh Gill was living in Vancouver as the self-proclaimed consul-general of Khalistan. He later fled Canada and is believed to be in hiding in London, England.

Ripudaman Singh Malik is a Vancouver businessman who helped found a credit union and several “Khalsa Schools”

Ajaib Singh Bagri was a mill worker living in Kamloops, British Columbia. He was taped giving a speech to Sikhs at Madison Square Garden on July 1984 in which he tells the crowd "Until we kill 50,000 Hindus we will not rest."

Hardial Singh Johal and Manmohan Singh were both followers of Parmar and active in the Sikh temples where he preached. On November 15, 2002 Hardial Singh Johal, died of natural causes at 55. He had allegedly stored the suitcases with bombs in the basement of a Vancouver school but was never charged in the case.

Daljit Sandhu is later named by a Crown witness as the man who picked up the tickets for the bombing. Mr. Sandhu was cleared by Judge Josephson in his March 16 judgement.

Timeline of the Trials

The bombing of Air India Flight 182 and the Narita airport launched several investigations, inquiries and trials. The trial of Malik and Bagri is known as the Air India Trial; Trial events relating to the bombings are listed below in chronological order.

November 8, 1985 – The RCMP charge Talwinder Singh Parmar and Inderjit Singh Reyat with weapons, explosives and conspiracy offences after a raid on their homes. Reyat is convicted of the weapons offence and receives a fine of two thousand dollars. Due to lack of evidence the charges against Parmar are dropped and no link to Air India is established.

January 22, 1986 – The Canadian Aviation Safety Board determines that a bomb was responsible for bringing down Air India 182.

February 4, 1986 – The Indian Government's Kirpal Commission of Inquiry reaches the same conclusion as the Canadian Aviation Safety Board

February 1988Inderjit Singh Reyat is arrested by British police in Coventry, England.

December 8, 1989 – Following a lengthy court battle the British government agrees to extradite Reyat to Canada.

May 10, 1991Inderjit Singh Reyat receives a ten year sentence after being convicted of two counts of manslaughter and four explosives charges relating to the Narita Airport bombing.

October 15, 1992Talwinder Singh Parmar is killed by Indian Police during a gun battle in Bombay.

October 27, 2000Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri are arrested by the RCMP. They are charged with 329 counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of the people on board Air India Flight 182, the conspiracy to murder, the attempted murder of passengers and crew on the Canadian Pacific flight at Japan's New Tokyo International Airport (now Narita International Airport), and charged with two counts of murder of the baggage handlers at New Tokyo International Airport.

June 4, 2001 – The British government gives Canada permission to charge Inderjit Singh Reyat in connection with the bombings.

June 6, 2001Inderjit Singh Reyat is arrested by the RCMP facing charges of murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy in the Air India bombing.

February 10, 2003 – Reyat pleads guilty to one count of manslaughter and a charge of aiding in the construction of a bomb. He was sentenced to five years in jail. At the time he was expected to provide testimony in the trial of Malik and Bagri but later claimed he couldn't remember.

April 2003 – The trial of Malik and Bagri begins after being delayed by pre-trial motions and problems with defense counsel.

May 18, 2004 – The crown rests its case in the trial of Malik and Bagri after calling 80 witnesses.

May 31, 2004 – Malik and Bagri's defense begins.

October 19, 2004 – Closing arguments begin.

December 4, 2004 – The judge presiding over the Air India Trial, Justice Ian Josephson says the verdict will be delivered on March 16 2005.

March 16, 2005 – Justice Ian Josephson delivers the verdict for Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri: Not guilty on all counts.

"I began by describing the horrific nature of these cruel acts of terrorism, acts which cry out for justice. Justice is not achieved, however, if persons are convicted on anything less than the requisite standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Despite what appear to have been the best and most earnest of efforts by the police and the Crown, the evidence has fallen markedly short of that standard." [3] (

What did the Canadian government know?

There are allegations that CSIS interfered in the investigation by destroying hundreds of wiretaps to protect the identity of their mole in the terrorist group. Of the 210 wiretaps that were recorded during the months before and after the bombing 156 were erased. These tapes continued to be erased even after the terrorists had become the primary suspects in the bombing. CSIS claims the wiretaps contained no relevant information but a memo from the RCMP states that "There is a strong likelihood that had CSIS retained the tapes between March and August 1985, that a successful prosecution of at least some of principals in both bombings could have been undertaken." [4] (

The Canadian government had been warned by the Indian government about the possibility of terrorist bombs aboard Air India flights in Canada. And over two weeks before the crash CSIS reported to the RCMP that the potential threat to Air India as well as Indian missions in Canada, was high.[5] (

On June 4, 1985, CSIS agents trailed Talwinder Singh Parmar and Inderjit Singh Reyat to Vancouver Island. The agents reported to the RCMP that they had heard a noise like a "loud gunshot" in the woods. Later that month Flight 182 was bombed. After the bombing the RCMP went to the site and found remains of an electrical blasting cap. [6] (

The suspects in the bombing were apparently aware of their surveillance, using pay phones and talking in code on the phone. Translator's notes of the wiretaps records this exchange between Talwinder Parmar and a follower named Hardial Singh Johal on the same day the tickets were purchased on June 20, 1985. [7] (
Parmar: Did he write the story?
Johal: No he didn't.
Parmar: Do that work first.

After this call a man called the CP Air and booked the tickets and left Johal's number. Shortly afterwards, Johal called Parmar and asked him if he "can come over and read the story he asked for". Parmar said he would be there shortly.

This conversation would appear to be an order from Parmar to book the tickets used to bomb the planes, however because the original wiretaps were erased by CSIS and are useless as evidence in court.

On November 18, 1998, Tara Singh Hayer was shot to death while getting out of his car in Surrey, British Columbia. Hayer had previously survived an earlier attempt made on his life in 1988 but was paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. Hayer had provided an affidavit to the RCMP in 1995 claiming that he was present during a conversation in which Bagri admitted his involvement in the bombings. Because of his death the affidavit was inadmissible in court. [8] (

During an interview with Bagri on October 28, 2000, RCMP agents describe Surjan Singh Gill as an agent for CSIS saying the reason that he resigned from the Babbar Khalsa was because his CSIS handlers told him to pull out. [9] (

To this day the Canadian government continues to insist there was no mole involved.

The Indian Government Theory

In 1989 a book was published entitled Soft target: How the Indian Intelligence Service penetrated Canada. Written by Canadian journalists Zuhair Kashmeri and Brian McAndrew, it claims the Indian government was behind the bombings but provides no evidence to support that conclusion. The book is banned in India and no longer in print. [10] (

20th anniversary

This article or section contains information about a current or ongoing event.
Information may change rapidly as the event progresses and may temporarily contain inaccuracies, bias, or vandalism due to a high frequency of edits.
June 23, 2005 will mark the 20th anniversary of the bombing. Prime Minister Paul Martin, other Canadian leaders, B.C. Premier Gord Campbell, and Irish President Mary McAleese are going to mark the anniversary with the families. Martin has also ordered flags across Canada flown at half-staff. [11] ( [12] (

See also

External links


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