Plane bombing killed 329 people and would have hit Heathrow if not for delay

A horrific plane bombing that claimed the lives of 329 people "would have blown up at Heathrow airport" if not for a delay, according to a now-murdered witness.

Air India Flight 182 was blown up on this day 37 years ago (June 23, 1985) roughly 120miles from the southwest tip of Ireland, killing everyone on board.

The attack was orchestrated by Canadian-Sikh militants and was the world's deadliest act of aviation terrorism before 9/11 happened 16 years later.

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Members of the Babbar Khalsa – a Sikh nationalist organisation with disdain for the Indian government – devised the plot.

British-Canadian Inderjit Singh Reyat remains the only person to have been convicted after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter in 2003, although Talwinder Singh Parmar – who died in 1992 – was the mastermind.

A number of others were heavily implicated.

Without getting on the plane themselves, one of the conspirators managed to check their luggage onto Canadian Pacific Air Lines Flight 60 (from Toronto to Montreal) to be transferred onto Air India Flight 182 (from Montreal to Delhi via Heathrow).

For an hour and 40 minutes, a spare engine was installed under Air India Flight 181 (before it became Flight 182) to be flown to India for repairs, meaning that the plane was around 30 to 40 minutes late on its schedule to Heathrow.

Tragically, at 8.14am (Irish time) the flight disappeared from radar as a bomb in the cargo hold ripped through the Boeing 747.

Of the 22 crew and 307 passengers, 132 bodies were recovered with the rest lost at sea. Some died in the explosion, others upon impact from 31,000 feet, and some from drowning.

According to Tara Singh Hayer, the publisher of the Indo-Canadian Times, the terror attack was meant to hit Heathrow in London.

Hayer claimed he overheard a meeting between fellow Sikh newspaper publisher Tarsem Singh Purewal and Ajaib Singh Bagri, a leading member of the Babbar Khalsa who was implicated in the terror attack but later acquitted.

As quoted in Heinz Duthel's book Global Secret and Intelligence Services I, Hayer claimed Bagri said: "If everything had gone as planned the plane would have blown up at Heathrow airport with no passengers on it.

"But because the plane was a half-hour to three quarters of an hour late, it blew up over the ocean."

Purewal and Hayer – the only witnesses to Bagri's statement – were both murdered in England in 1995 and 1998 respectively.

Their deaths meant an affidavit containing their claims (that Bagri admitted involvement in the plot) were deemed inadmissible before his eventual acquittal.

Shockingly, the delay before Heathrow wasn't the only timing variable which changed the nature of the plot.

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Air India Flight 182 was actually part of a larger, transnational terrorist plot involving Air India Flight 301 at Narita International Airport in Tokyo on the same day.

There, a bomb inside a suitcase exploded prematurely while still in the airport, killing two baggage handlers and injuring four others.

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