Daler Mehndi arrested in 2003 human trafficking case, sent to jail by Patiala Sessions Court

A court in Punjab's Patiala on Thursday dismissed the plea of leading bhangra-pop singer Daler Mehndi against his two-year jail in a 19-year-old human trafficking case. He was subsequently arrested and sent to a local jail. He was convicted along with his brother in March 2018 and later released on bail. As his bail plea was dismissed by the court of Additional Sessions Judge H.S. Grewal, Daler Mehndi was taken into custody.

Police had registered a case against the singer, his brother Shamsher Singh -- who died in October 2017 -- and two others, after it was alleged that the accused took money from people to the tune of Rs 1 crore on the pretext of taking them abroad. Complainant, Bakhshish Singh, alleged that the deal never matured and the accused failed to return the money. The case was registered in 2003 in Patiala. Daler Mehndi was subsequently arrested but released on bail after a few days.

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Police had earlier moved two petitions before the court saying that Daler Mehndi was not required in the case as he had nothing to do with the immigration fraud, called 'kabootarbaazi' -- literally flying of pigeons but referring to numerous youth in Punjab trying to use illegal means to settle abroad. The singer was arrested by the police in October 2003 along with his brother after the complainant said he was duped of a huge sum of money by the two, who had promised to take him abroad as part of their musical group and to leave him in some western country to settle there.

Police officials, after investigations, had stated that the singers and other performers had got into a well-organised racket to illegally take youth out of Punjab to western countries by making them part of musical troupes. The youth were charged up to Rs 2 million in each case. But after police started the proceedings that Daler Mehndi had nothing to do with the immigration fraud case, the complainant moved court again objecting to the singer being discharged. He said that both the brothers had duped him. 

Daler Mehndi's arrest was quite controversial at a police station in Patiala in 2003 as he was asked to strip by a few junior police officers during interrogation. He spent a few days behind lock-up before being released on bail. His younger brother, singer Mika, who accompanied him during the surrender in 2003, had to beat a hasty retreat near the police station when an "organised" mob surrounded their vehicles.