"if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen
the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu.

Open letter to Justice Marie-Josee Hogue Featured

Honourable Commissioner Hogue,


Thank you for opening an inquiry into the growing foreign interference in Canada, which is home to people from almost all the countries across the globe.

I, being a journalist of Indian origin, who came to Canada in 2001, have been following these developments very closely.

It’s good that you are looking into an issue which has deeply impacted my compatriots residing in this country for a very long time.

It gives us hope that you aren’t just focusing on China, Russia or Iran, but also on how the government of the world’s so-called largest democracy in New Delhi has been spreading its tentacles in Canada through its spies to suppress any voice of dissent in the diaspora.  

Since I have covered the Air India tragedy, and have interviewed the families of the victims of the worst incident in the history of aviation terrorism before 9/11, I call upon your inquiry commission to look into the circumstances that led to the bombings that left 331 people dead. Radical Desi, an online magazine which I started, has already launched a petition asking for a focused inquiry into the whole episode. We will continue to gather signatures both online and on physical petitions, until Vaisakhi in April.

Community members are signing the petition with a desire to see justice being served. There has been a feeling out there that the Indian agencies could be involved behind the crime that has largely been blamed on Sikh separatists, leading to only one conviction.  

This has become even more necessary after the murder of Surrey-Delta Gurdwara President Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June, 2023. The events leading up to his assassination demand a fresh investigation into the role of Indian spies behind the Air Indian blasts.  

Let’s take a quick look at some of the facts.   

331 people died in two bombings on June 23, 1985. This included the mid-air blast of Air India Flight 182 that killed all 329 people aboard. While the incidents were blamed on Sikh separatists seeking revenge from the Indian government, community activists continue to believe that this was the handiwork of Indian intelligence to discredit the movement for a Sikh homeland of Khalistan. They have pointed to a flawed investigation, destruction of surveillance tapes, and facts such as the last minute cancellation of travel plans by some people known to be close to the Indian consulate, and the proximity of some of the suspects to Indian officials.

Two of the persons charged were acquitted. Inderjit Singh Reyat was the only individual to be convicted for manslaughter and perjury, for concealing the identity of another potential suspect.

Among the acquitted was Sikh millionaire Ripudaman Singh Malik, who was not only given visa to visit India in 2019, but was allowed to meet the head of the Indian spy agency R&AW. Malik was shot to death under mysterious circumstances in July 2022. A section of the Indian media speculated that he was killed by the supporters of Khalistan.

Nijjar was portrayed as a suspect, raising apprehensions of retaliation within the community. He had been facing threats to his life, and had been on the radar of the Indian government that was seeking his extradition. A month before his murder, he told me during a radio interview that he is on the Indian watch list and could be eliminated through contract killers. So much so, I was labeled as a provocateur against Malik by the same media group, as I have been questioning Malik’s meeting with the R&AW chief and his growing loyalty towards right wing Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi. A dossier made on me by the Indian government accused me of indulging in anti-India activities around the same time, even though I have been critical of Khalistan movement and had received threats for criticising Malik and others charged in the Air India case. 

The Indian government was outraged over Nijjar’s support for a referendum on Khalistan and for glorification of the late Talwinder Singh Parmar, a militant leader who is widely accused as a mastermind behind the Air India carnage. Notably, while Parmar was never convicted for the crime, he was killed by the Indian police in cold blood in 1992, giving credence to the conspiracy theories. Many believe that his killing was a part of the cover up.  

In June, 2023, Nijjar was murdered near the gurdwara parking lot, despite the fact that he was repeatedly cautioned by Canadian authorities about the danger to his life.

The Canadian Prime Minister acknowledged in the House of Commons that the Indian government could be behind the murder. Later, US authorities unearthed a plot to kill Nijjar’s colleague Gurpatwant Singh Pannu, and indicted Nikhil Gupta, who hired an undercover police officer for the job on behalf of an unidentified Indian government official.

The series of events has made the demand for another Air India inquiry even more relevant than before. Previous investigations mainly looked into the hand of Sikh separatists in the bombings and have remained unresolved, so let’s go beyond and try to look into other possibilities with an open mind.

I urge you to kindly examine this question urgently and bring closure that is much needed before it is too late. Not only the victims’ families deserve that, but also the Sikh community that remains under a microscope because of this ugly affair.


Gurpreet Singh 

An independent journalist and the author of Fighting Hatred With Love: Voices of the Air India victims' families 






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Cofounder and Director of Radical Desi


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