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Santokh Singh Bagga, C.S.I.S. Informant
By KIM BOLAN
Santokh Singh Bagga (alias Dharam) and his son, Gursev Singh, are affiliated with the Sikh Resource Centre, Rural Route 1, Princeton, Ontario, Canada, (519) 458-4605, where several Sikh youth camps have been organised over the years. Santokh received his doctorate in philosophy and psychology from Poona University in 1978. He came to Canada in 1986. In an August 5, 1988 article, Tara Singh Hayer wrote prophetically that an assassin named Harkirat Singh Bagga had recently come to Vancouver to kill him. Upon the completion of his sentence, Harkirat was deported to India in 1994.
The Vancouver Sun, Vancouver, Apr. 22, 2005
Photo: Santokh Singh Bagga
The father of a youth who attempted to kill Tara Singh Hayer 16 years ago was an informant to Canada's spy agency and provided information about the Air India bombing, B.C. Supreme Court was told Wednesday.
Crown prosecutor Richard Cairns referred to a letter by then-solicitor general James Kelleher on March 30, 1987 expressing concern about the need to protect the identity of a C.S.I.S. source named Santokh Singh Bagga.
Bagga's son Harkirat was just 17 in August 1988 when he shot and paralysed Hayer at his Indo-Canadian Times newspaper office.
Kelleher said in his letter 17 months before the shooting that Santokh Bagga had provided information to C.S.I.S. about what happened before twin June 1985 bombings that killed 331.
'As you are aware, I am very concerned with the handling of a source with apparent knowledge of the events that led up to the two bombings noted above,' Kelleher said in his letter to C.S.I.S., part of which was read in court. 'I wish the R.C.M.P. to assume responsibility for the human source, Santokh Singh Bagga.'
There was no further reference in court Wednesday of what exactly Santokh Bagga told C.S.I.S. and the R.C.M.P. or how long he remained an informant. He is not scheduled to testify at the trial of accused bombers Ajaib Singh Bagri and Ripudaman Singh Malik.
Bagga senior would often speak critically of the Indian government's actions after coming to Canada as a refugee claimant in 1986. He made headlines in May, 1988 when he accused then external affairs minister Joe Clark of interfering in his refugee case in order to appease the government of India.
Santokh Bagga often addressed congregations at B.C. Sikh temples during the height of the Sikh separatist movement in the mid- to late-1980s.
After his son was arrested for shooting Hayer, the elder Bagga praised Harkirat's actions as justified in a speech at Surrey's Guru Nanak temple.
Bagga senior said Hayer 'deserved' what he got and that 'it was all right to do the shooting.'
In the October, 1988 Surrey speech, Santokh Bagga also indicated his support for suspected Air India mastermind Talwinder Singh Parmar, as well as 'my good brother Ajaib Singh Bagri.'
Harkirat Bagga pleaded guilty to the 1988 shooting that paralysed Hayer. Even though the judge and prosecutor said others had influenced the teen, Harkirat claimed to have acted alone. He was eventually deported to India.
Hayer, who had been on the Air India witness list, was assassinated in 1998 in a shooting that remains unsolved.
Bagri was charged in 2000 of being involved in the 1988 plot to kill Hayer, but those charges were stayed in January after the Crown said the evidence was no longer available.
The issue of Santokh Bagga as a C.S.I.S. informant was raised by Cairns as he argued against an application by Bagri's lawyers to throw out reports of C.S.I.S. interviews with another source - a close female friend of Bagri's who provided incriminating information about him.
That woman, whose identity is shielded by court order, claimed total memory loss when she testified at the international terrorism trial in December, February and earlier this month, leading to a ruling admitting three C.S.I.S. reports of her statements.
But Bagri's legal team says his Charter rights were violated because original tape recordings and transcripts of some of the 1987 C.S.I.S. interviews with the woman were destroyed, meaning verbatim evidence was not disclosed to the defence. Cairns said Bagri's rights were not denied, because the tapes were only destroyed after an accurate and complete report of what the woman said was compiled by C.S.I.S. agent Willy Laurie.