There was a gap of three years between the killings of Tarsem Purewal and Tara Singh Hayer, editors of England-based ‘Des Pardes’ and Canada-based ‘Indo-Canadian Times’, respectively, but both the cases had stark similarities. Both were editors and owned popular Punjabi newspapers, and they had a Kanishka bombing connection too.
Hayer was a key witness in the trial of Air India flight 182, or Kanishka, bombing, which resulted in the death of all 329 abroad. Purewal’s name, as per reports, found mention in the probe of the case. Both were shot dead while coming back from their offices. At the time of their killings, both were in their early sixties. Most importantly, killers in both the cases remained unidentified. Hayer survived the first attempt on his life in 1988. Purewal was killed on January 24, 1995.
Hayer, at the time, had allegedly written some articles for ‘Indo-Canadian Times’, wherein he named some top Babbar Khalsa leaders as conspirators behind the bombing. Days later, he was attacked in his office and was left paralysed.
In October 1995, Hayer agreed to become prosecution witness in the Kanishka bombing case. Three years later, when the trial had not even begun, Hayer was killed on November 18, 1998. In 2006, the Canadian government announced a public inquiry into the case.
Apart from professional friendship and bonhomie, what tied Hayer and Purewal to each other and to the Kanishka case is Hayer’s submission to the Canadian authorities, wherein he referred to Purewal.
As per Hayer’s claim, during his England visit in 1985, he had overheard a discussion about the bombing between Purewal and an individual. In 2005, when the trial concluded, the individual named by Hayer was acquitted by the Canadian court. When Hayer submitted this claim in 1995, Purewal was already dead. The claim was never proved in court. Trial in the case began in 2000. By then, Hayer was also dead.