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School run by former Air India bombing suspect destroyed in fire


Vancouver : A school being run by a society set up by Ripudaman Singh Malik, a suspect acquitted in the Air India Kanishka bombing, was destroyed in a fire. Arson is suspected.

The gutted Khalsa School is one three religious-education institutions run by the Satnam Education Society set up by Malik — one the two suspects acquitted in the Air India Kanishka bombing in June 1985 that killed all 329 passengers.

The fire started at 7.30 a.m. Thursday and consumed the whole building before fire brigades could control it.

Eight of the 10 portable classrooms and a small gurdwara inside the school were destroyed in the fire.

Eyewitnesses said the fire started at four places.

The school authorities said the holy book Guru Granth Sahib was found undamaged after the fire was extinguished.

Though the cause of the fire in not yet known, fire department officials suspected arson.

“That (fire) is suspicious to us, but I don’t want to comment more than that until our fire investigator goes in and surveys the situation,” deputy fire chief Tim Armstrong was quoted as saying.

The school reportedly has more than 300 students. Apart from the Vancouver Education Board curriculum, the school also teaches Punjabi language and culture.

During summer vacations, students take classes in the Sikh religion, including kirtan.

The school has operated at the current venue not far from Vancouver’s famous Punjabi Market since 1992.

The site was leased to the school by the Vancouver School Board.

Malik later set up two other Khalsa schools in the Punjabi-dominated Surrey city on the outskirts of Vancouver.