Man acquitted in Air India bombing not welcome in party: Canada PM

April 25th, 2011 - 12:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Toronto, April 25 (IANS) Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has denied that his Conservative party has any links with Ripudaman Singh Malik, who was acquitted in the Air India bombing case.

Malik was tried for the bombing of the Air India Kanishka flight from Canada to India in June 1985 that killed all 329 people on board, and acquitted in 2005. Last week, he created ripples when Indo-Canadian candidate Ujjal Dosanjh alleged that Malik was supporting his opponent Wai Young in the Vancouver South constituency.

In his complaint to the Canadian election commission, Dosanjh said his opponent campaigned at Vancouver’s Khalsa School founded by Malik.

“It is offensive to Canadians when you have a mainstream political candidate actually seeking, or accepting, the endorsement of a man who has admitted ties and links to Air India bombers,” said Dosanjh, who won the seat by mere 20 votes last time and faces tough opposition this time.

Responding to Dosanjh’s allegations, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper defended his party’s candidate, saying his party had never sought endorsement from the acquitted Air India bombing accused.

“She (candidate Wai Young) was invited to attend a school. She attended in good faith. She has been very clear: she and her campaign have no links and do not welcome in any way Mr. Malik into this party. We’re absolutely clear on that,” the prime minister told the media at his party rally in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga Saturday.

In a separate statement, the Conservative party also defended its candidate against Dosanjh’s charges, saying: “The Conservative party candidate in Vancouver-South was unaware of Ripudaman Singh Malik’s background or relationship with the Khalsa School.”

Wai Young herself denied political links to Malik.

In a statement, she has said: “I was invited to visit the Khalsa School by the school’s principal, not Ripudaman Singh Malik. Had I known he would have been present or was involved with the school I never would have attended.

“No one involved with this school or Ripudaman Singh Malik is involved in my campaign nor have I ever asked for his support.”

But Dosanjh has dismissed her statement and said: “She couldn’t have been ignorant of Mr. Malik. Mr. Malik is an instantly recognisable face to those who have followed the news in British Columbia (province) over the last 25 years.”

Malik also made headlines last week when the Canadian supreme court allowed recovery of $5.2 million from him in legal fees during the Air India trial.

(Gurmukh Singh can be contacted at gurmukh.s@ians.in)

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