Canada frees Air India bomber, Sikh terrorist who killed 331 people in 1985 attacks
The only person convicted in the 1985 Air India bombings that killed 331 people is now free, Canada’s parole board said Wednesday.
Inderjit Singh Reyat had been ordered to live at a halfway house following his release from prison one year ago, after serving two decades behind bars.
That condition has now been lifted and Reyat may return to a normal life, including “living in a private residence,” parole board spokesman Patrick Storey said in an email.
The onetime Sikh extremist, an immigrant from India, was convicted of making bombs that were stuffed into luggage and planted on two planes leaving Vancouver, and of lying in court to cover for his co-accused.
One bomb tore apart Air India Flight 182 as it neared the coast of Ireland, killing all 329 people aboard, including entire families. It was the deadliest case of aviation terrorism prior to the September 11, 2001, attacks.
The second exploded on the ground at Japan’s Narita airport, killing two baggage handlers as they transferred cargo to another Air India plane.
The blasts followed a crackdown on Sikhs fighting for an independent homeland, and those behind it were allegedly seeking revenge for the storming of the Golden Temple in Amritsar by Indian troops.
Reyat was working as a mechanic in westernmost Canada and purchased the dynamite, batteries and detonators used to construct the bombs.
Two alleged co-conspirators were acquitted due to a lack of evidence and, according to prosecutors, 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.”
Conditions of his release from prison also still apply, including having no contact with the victims’ families nor with extremists.
Reyat must also shun all political activities and take counselling for violent tendencies, a lack of empathy and exaggerated beliefs.