Kanishka Bombing




Jul 23, 1985

Attack Type

Bomb blast

The Air India Flight 182 Kanishka on June 23, 1985, flying from Toronto to Mumbai, exploded in mid-air over the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Ireland killing all 307 passengers and 22 crew members. The mid-air bomb explosion which killed all the 329 persons, including 268 Canadians, 27 British, 22 Indians and 12 others on board, was the deadliest attack on civil aviation until the September 11, 2001 attack in neighbouring USA. Till date the Kanishka bombing is the single biggest incident of mass murder in Canadian history.


The Flight which took off from Toronto had stops at Montreal, London, New Delhi and Mumbai. After picking up passengers from Toronto and Montreal, the flight had disappeared from the radar off the coast of Ireland. Later, the investigation revealed that a bomb exploded on board, destroying the flight which plunged into the Atlantic. Within the span of an hour, another bomb had exploded during luggage transfer (from a Canadian Pacific Airlines flight to Air India Flight flying from Tokyo to Mumbai) at the Narita airport in Tokyo, Japan, killing two baggage handlers.


According to Canadian authorities, the bomb which destroyed the flight passed through the security-check at the Vancouver airport onto a Canadian Pacific Airline. It was also revealed that an unidentified suspect brought air tickets in Vancouver that allowed the two bomb-laden suitcases to pass through airport security. However, no passenger boarded the flight with these tickets. From the Toronto airport, one of the suitcases was transferred to Air India Flight 182 Kanishka. The other bomb-laden suitcase, which was supposed to be transferred to another Air India Flight from Japan to India, was prematurely exploded at the Narita airport in Tokyo. The investigation of Canadian and Indian authorities had revealed that the bombing was planned and executed by the Khalistani terrorist outfit, Babbar Khalsa International (BKI).


Both the bombs were hidden in check-in suitcases by Khalistani terrorists and were loaded on flight at Vancouver airport. Babbar Khalsa International (BKI), the Khalistani militant group which had its leadership based in Canada was responsible for the incident. Talwinder Singh Parmar, Hardial Singh Johal, Surjan Singh Gill and Inderjit Singh Reyat were the conspirators in the Kanishka plot. Talwinder Singh Parmar was the mastermind of the attack while Inderjit Singh Reyat was the bomb maker. However, Surjan Singh Gill, and Hardial Singh Johal were not charged by authorities.


The only conspirator to be jailed in connection with the incident was Inderjit Singh Reyat. He was arrested in England in February 1988 and after being extradited to Canada in 1989.  He was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 1991 after a trial, for manufacturing the bomb. Reyat was re-arrested after his completion of prison sentence, resulting from a renewed Canadian investigation in 2000. His trial began in 2010 and a nine-year sentence was awarded to him in 2011. However, he was released three years prior (in 2017) to the completion of his punishment.


After the renewed investigation in 2000, two suspects identified as Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri were arrested. Ripudaman Singh Malik has been identified as the fund raiser for the Kanishka bombing and was closely associated with Talwinder Singh Pammar.  Although he was arrested in 2000, because of the inconsistencies in Reyat’s testimony (Reyat had stuck a deal with Canadian authorities in February 2003), Malik (as well as Ajaib Singh) were acquitted. Currently Ripudaman Singh Malik is based in Vancouver and has assets worth over USD 110 million.


Of the other conspirators, Talwinder Singh Parmar, who was also the founder of BKI, had fled to Pakistan after the bombing. He was however killed in an encounter with Punjab (India) Police in near Phillaur in 1992. Two Pakistani nationals were also killed in the encounter.