Royal Canadian Mounted Police apprehended two Sikhs in Vancouver today after a series of raids there in connection with the investigation of two airline tragedies that killed 331 people in June.
Reports in Vancouver indicated that the mounted police now are convinced that bombs constructed and planted in Vancouver were the cause of both the crash last June of Air-India Flight 182 off the Irish coast that killed 329 persons and the suitcase explosion in Tokyo's Narita Airport shortly afterward in which two Japanese baggage handlers were killed.
Both the Air-India flight and the luggage being unloaded in Japan had originated in Canada.
Immediately after both incidents, anonymous callers to U.S. newspapers claimed responsibility on behalf of radical Sikh groups in North America that are opposed to the government of Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
But for months investigators did not appear to be able to prove the connection, nor did they have any physical evidence to indicate that the Air-India crash had been caused by a bomb.
In recent days, however, crews dredging the Irish Sea recovered fragments of the plane that indicated there had been an explosion aboard.
The Vancouver Province newspaper reported this morning that authorities have physical evidence from the Air-India wreckage that links it to the bomb that went off in Japan. The newspaper said investigators also have determined that the explosion in Tokyo's Narita Airport was caused by a stereo tuner rigged with explosives and that the tuner had been purchased in Vancouver.
Late today, Canadian police charged two men with unspecified offenses following the raids yesterday at several homes and a temple in the Vancouver area. The charges will be made public at a court hearing Friday.
One was identified as Talwinder Singh Parmar, a Sikh who police said is wanted in India for questioning in the deaths of two police officers. A second man, whose name was not released, also was being held.
The Vancouver Province said investigators no longer believe earlier theories that Lal Singh and Amand Singh, who are wanted by the FBI for plotting to kill Gandhi during his visit to the United States earlier this year, were the men who checked the explosive-laden baggage at Vancouver airports.
The newspaper said investigators are focusing their probe on two clean-shaven men who checked the baggage on a flight to Japan and a bearded man in a turban who paid cash to purchase tickets on both flights but did not board either plane.