Mounties warn son of man acquitted in Air India bombing that his life may be in danger



Warning comes as investigators probe possible Indian government links to Ripudaman Singh Malik’s 2022 killing

Posted: 1 Hour Ago

Ripudaman Singh Malik, in grey, smiles as he leaves B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver in 2005 after being acquitted in the 1985 Air India bombing. (Lyle Stafford/REUTERS)

The son of a man who was accused in the Air India bombing of 1985 has been officially warned by the RCMP that his life could be under threat, CBC News has learned.

Hardeep Malik, a businessman in Surrey, B.C., is the son of Ripudaman Singh Malik, who was acquitted in 2005 of mass murder and conspiracy charges related to a pair of bombings in 1985 that killed 331 people.

Singh Malik was

gunned down
outside his office in Surrey on July 14, 2022. Two men have since been

in his murder.

CBC News has learned RCMP investigators have been probing whether the government of India was behind the killing of the wealthy and controversial businessman. They believe India’s government was involved in last year’s targeted killing of prominent Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

This still of security footage shows Hardeep Singh Nijjar leaving the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara on the evening of June 18, 2023. (Submitted by name withheld)

Singh Malik’s widow and several other family members were travelling in France last week when the RCMP delivered a letter to Hardeep Malik warning him that his life could be in danger from a criminal conspiracy.

The RCMP issues

“Duty to Warn” letters
under a B.C. law that directs authorities to notify people when they become aware of a threat to their safety. The legislation that governs such notifications says the danger “must be a risk that is likely to happen.”

Several people associated with the Sikh separatist movement in British Columbia have received such notices. Nijjar got one before he was killed in June 2023.

The reported threat against Hardeep Malik could support the theory that the Indian government’s alleged campaign of assassination in Canada did not begin with Nijjar’s killing on June 18, 2023.

CBC News has seen evidence that suggests an Indian diplomat was in close contact with Ripudaman Singh Malik by phone and text in the hours leading up to his shooting — as reported in March in the
Fifth Estate documentary

Contract to Kill

Investigators have been looking into whether the contacts with the diplomat had anything to do with Singh Malik’s death at the hands of two alleged B.C. gangsters.

CBC News has spoken with senior investigative and government sources, as well as members of the Sikh community. The investigative and government sources spoke with CBC News on the condition that they not be named due to the sensitivity of the matter. CBC News has also agreed to protect the identity of some sources in the Sikh community due to concerns for their personal security.

Singh Malik died in a hail of gunfire in the Newton area of Surrey. Some suspected he was the target of internecine feuds between current and former Sikh separatists, or the victim of a business dispute, because he had already made peace with the government of India a few years earlier.

Indian government sources quoted in Indian media pushed that narrative. India issued Singh Malik a visa and allowed him to return home and visit family in the Punjab in 2019.

Trial marred by investigative failures

Few would see Singh Malik as an innocent bystander in the violent dispute between Khalistani militants and the government of India.

Although he was found not guilty in a trial marked by investigative failures, many in India and Canada continued to believe that the preponderance of evidence pointed toward Singh Malik’s involvement in the bombing of an Air India passenger jet that killed 329 people, including 268 Canadians — the worst act of mass murder in Canadian history.

The Air India bombing — for which only one person was ever 

 — was the culmination of years of violence involving Sikh militants that began in the late 1970s and escalated when the Indian Army stormed Sikhism’s holiest shrine, the Golden Temple.

Jagit Grewal, left, shows her two-year-old grandson Devin Grewal the names of her husband, Daljit Singh Grewal, and his grandfather on a monument during a memorial marking the 25th anniversary of the Air India bombing in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday June 23, 2010. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

That event led to the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984 at the hands of two Sikh bodyguards, and the subsequent massacre of thousands of Sikhs in a state-sanctioned pogrom that would drive many Sikhs to seek refuge in Canada.

Singh Malik’s apparent abandonment of the Khalistani cause angered some more radical elements of the Sikh separatist movement. Indian media have suggested that his murder was the result of internecine feuds within Canada’s Sikh community.
Some accused Hardeep Singh Nijjar and his allies of the killing. Singh Malik’s own family did not publicly blame the government of India, which they believed had reconciled with him.

All is forgiven?

Some years ago, India began to offer former Sikh separatists in Canada a deal: forgiveness for past deeds in return for renunciation of their separatist goals. That renunciation typically took the form of a letter.

One man who took advantage of that process was Jaspal Singh Atwal. In 1986, Atwal shot Malkiat Singh Sidhu, who was visiting British Columbia for his nephew’s wedding. Sidhu was a cabinet minister in the Sikh-majority state of Punjab, where separatists hope to locate a future independent Sikh state. Sidhu survived the shooting and Atwal was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Atwal became a source of embarrassment for the Trudeau government when he was invited to a dinner during the prime minister’s first visit to India in 2018, and posed for a photograph with Sophie Gregoire Trudeau. In fact, Atwal was in India with the knowledge and permission of the Indian government.

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau with Jaspal Atwal at an Indian film industry event in Mumbai in February 2018, during Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s official visit to India. (Supplied by Jaspal Atwal)

Atwal had gone through a process with the Indian Consulate in Vancouver through which he renounced his former ideology and membership in the International Sikh Youth Federation — a group banned in both India and Canada — in return for forgiveness and
removal of his name from India’s travel blacklist.

The same process would be made available to Ripudaman Singh Malik, and the Indian consular official who would guide him through it was a fellow Sikh with a long career in India’s diplomatic service.

A trip to the homeland

In 2019, a year after Trudeau visited Punjab, Singh Malik made a trip to his home village in the Ferozepur district.

His brother Harjit shed some light on how that trip came about in a

2019 interview
with local online channel Charidkala Time TV. In it, he credited Indian intelligence chief Samant Kumar Goel, who ran the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India’s foreign intelligence agency.

“Mr. Goel, the RAW chief, showed the guts to make this happen,” said Harjit Singh Malik. “I even met him in Delhi and enjoyed myself while meeting him.”

Goel took over as head of RAW in 2019, at a time when India was rethinking its policy of blacklisting Sikh emigres. The

Central Adverse List
, as India’s Ministry of Home Affairs called the ban list, subsequently shrank from hundreds of names to just a handful.

Gurpatwant Singh Pannun is a dual Canadian-American citizen who has been organizing non-binding referendums for Sikhs to vote for the creation of an independent homeland named Khalistan. (CBC)


Washington Post
recently named Goel as someone U.S. intelligence agencies focused on in their investigation of the Indian government’s alleged plot to kill Nijjar associate and U.S.-Canadian citizen Gurpatwant Singh Pannun.

“U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed that the operation targeting Pannun was approved by … Samant Goel,” the paper reported. Goel did not respond to the Post’s inquiries.

Tensions in Canada’s Sikh community

CBC News has not seen or confirmed the U.S. intelligence. Goel has not been charged by either U.S. or Canadian authorities and is understood to have left RAW. He was instrumental in the public rehabilitation of Ripudaman Singh Malik in India.

In 2022, Singh Malik thanked Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally in a letter that infuriated some in Khalistani circles.

“I am writing you this to express my deep heartfelt gratitude for the unprecedented positive steps taken by yourself to redress long-pending Sikh demands and grievances,” he wrote, “including the elimination of blacklists that restricted visits to India of thousands of Sikhs living abroad.”

One of Singh Malik’s harshest critics was Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

A woman is consoled as people mourn Sikh community leader and temple president Hardeep Singh Nijjar during day-long funeral services for him in Surrey, B.C. on Sunday, June 25, 2023. (Darryl Dyck/Canadian Press via AP)

Nijjar was part of a younger generation of Khalistanis who had no intention of reconciling with India. Some members of this cohort regarded Singh Malik as a traitor to the community, according to community members who spoke to CBC News.

Tensions with Singh Malik were further exacerbated by a dispute about a potential visit to British Columbia by the Jathedar of the Akal Takht, the highest religious authority of Sikhism. The Jathedar was due to visit Canada in late June 2022, three weeks before Singh Malik’s death, but called off his visit following disputes over Singh Malik’s role in printing the holy book Sri Guru Granth Sahib without authorization.

For all of those reasons, many inside and outside the community were ready to believe that Sikh hardliners could be behind Singh Malik’s death on July 14.

In fact, Canadian investigators now believe it’s likely that both Nijjar and Singh Malik were targeted by the government of India, according to the sources who spoke with CBC News.

Consular connections

Singh Malik’s contacts with the government of India were mostly through the Indian consulate in Vancouver, where he was in touch with a diplomat called Amar Jit Singh, who once served as India’s consul-general in Herat, Afghanistan, along with stints in Iran, the UAE, Japan and the U.K.

Amar Jit Singh, who has since returned to India and retired, led the effort to convince Khalistanis to renounce their past allegiances in return for removal from Indian blacklists. WhatsApp chat logs and call logs show that he was in close touch with Singh Malik throughout Wednesday, July 13 and the early hours of Thursday, July 14, 2022.

Malik was shot dead as he arrived at his office later that Thursday morning. Police have charged two local men, Tanner Fox and Jose Lopez, with first-degree murder.

Investigators say both men are known in B.C. gang circles. Their trial is set for October.

Neither Fox nor Lopez have personal connections to India and no theory has been advanced about their possible motive for killing the elderly Indian businessman.

Calls and chats hours before death

Call logs show that Singh Malik received three WhatsApp calls from an Indian cellphone under the name “Amarjeet Singh, Consulate” on the evening of July 13, the day before he was killed.

According to a source who spoke to CBC News on condition they not be named, the diplomat who helped Singh Malik through the process of getting an Indian visa was Amar Jit Singh. A WhatsApp message to Singh Malik from “Amarjeet Singh” shows a photograph of a Canadian passport in a man’s hand, held open to show a multiple-entry visa to India in Singh Malik’s name.

Singh Malik responded to the photo with the word “thanks” and a folded hands emoji.

(Names spelled in Hindi or Punjabi/Gurmukhi alphabets are sometimes transliterated in slightly different ways into the Latin alphabet.)

Later on the evening of July 13, 2022, that same Indian number sent Singh Malik a WhatsApp message with a B.C. phone number and a name. At 4:53 am on July 14, Singh Malik responded with thanks, and 22 minutes later the same Indian number responded, “I have told him.”

RCMP and Surrey Police officers work the scene of the shooting death of Ripudaman Singh Malik in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, July 14, 2022. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Singh Malik was shot to death outside his office about four and a half hours later.

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His day planner contained an annotation that might offer a clue about what he was expecting on the morning he was killed.

Singh Malik had circled the hours 1000 and 1030 and written “lunch” with “Amar Jit” beside it.

Amar Jit Singh has not been accused of any crime by Canadian authorities.

CBC News reached the diplomat by phone in India last year, but he hung up when asked about the killing. Several more attempts to reach Amar Jit Singh more recently went unanswered.

The Indian High Commission did not respond to CBC News’ request for comment on the WhatsApp exchanges between Amar Jit Singh and Ripudaman Singh Malik, India’s official view of Singh Malik and why he was removed from the country’s travel blacklist.

WATCH: Sikh activists call on Ottawa to do more to protect them

Show more

Following the arrest of three suspects in the killing of Sikh separatist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, others in the Sikh community in Canada are worried about being assassinated and want the federal government to do more to ensure their safety.  2:28

Within weeks of the killing of Ripudaman Singh Malik, the RCMP warned five other Sikh-Canadian men that their lives were in danger.

Already in summer 2022, the government of Canada suspected that Indian officials in Canada — who had long used their travel blacklist and other pressure tactics to recruit informers and attempt to exert control over the Punjabi diaspora — were running an operation in Canada against Sikh-Canadians they saw as enemies of India.

Although Canadian investigators developed evidence in the Singh Malik case that led them to believe it was likely linked to the Nijjar plot, CBC News has learned that they don’t yet feel they have enough evidence to say so conclusively or lay charges.

LISTEN | CBC has launched a new podcast series that examines how Narendra Modi has transformed India over his decade in power. 
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Evan Dyer

Senior Reporter

Evan Dyer has been a journalist with CBC for 25 years, after an early career as a freelancer in Argentina. He works in the Parliamentary Bureau and can be reached at

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