February 16, 2017 5:09:43 pm
After serving two decades behind bars, Inderjit Singh Reyat is now free. He was the only person convicted in the 1985 Air India – Kanishka – bombings that killed nearly 331 people, Canada’s parole board said today. Following his release from prison a year ago, Reyat had been ordered to live at a halfway house after serving two decades behind bars. Canada’s parole board spokesperson Patrick Storey told AFP in an email that the condition has now been revoked and Reyat may return to a normal life, including “living in a private residence”. A Sikh immigrant from India, Reyat was convicted of making bombs that were planted inside luggage and put on on two planes departing from Vancouver, and for lying in court to cover for his co- accused.
One out of two bombs ripped apart Air India Flight 182 – Kanishka – as it neared the coast of Ireland, wiping out all 329 people on board. The second bomb went off at Japan’s Narita airport, killing two baggage handlers as they transferred cargo to another Air India plane. The blasts triggered a massive crackdown on Sikh militants, as those behind the incident were allegedly seeking revenge for the Golden Temple operation. Reyat, who worked as a mechanic in westernmost Canada, had purchased the batteries, detonators and dynamite used to make the bombs.
According to prosecutors, two alleged co-conspirators were acquitted due to lack of evidence and because of Reyat’s perjury. Storey said Reyat’s parole officer has assessed those with whom he will live “to ensure they will not have a negative influence on him.” However, conditions of his release from prison still apply, which include having no contact with the victims’ families nor with extremists.
On June 23, 1985, a bomb exploded aboard Emperor Kanishka or Air India Flight 182, a Boeing 747 aircraft flying on the Montreal-London route, with New Delhi as the final destination. The bomb, placed in a suitcase and checked into cargo during a stopover in Vancouver, exploded over the Atlantic Ocean in Irish airspace at an altitude of 31,000 feet, killing all 329 on board — 268 Canadian citizens (many of them of Indian origin), 27 Britons and 24 Indians.
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