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Badal springs to Daler defence

Chandigarh, Oct. 30: Former chief minister Parkash Singh Badal today came down heavily on Punjab police for dragging Bhangra pop star Daler Mehndi into the illegal immigration racket.

The Shiromani Akali Dal president said the issue, including allegations of police high-handedness, needed to be probed by an independent agency.

“A judicial probe at the highest level or even a CBI inquiry would be quite in order to get to the truth of the sordid drama,” he said.

Clarifying that he wanted an independent probe into allegations of human trafficking, Badal said no one who had indulged in it should be allowed to go scot-free.

“But the Daler Mehndi case and its handling has raised many questions about the way the police are behaving in Punjab. We strongly oppose an artiste of his stature being subjected to a brutal and stage-managed mob trial, as happened in Patiala. It is also shocking to learn that Punjab police officials allegedly first forced Daler to sing and then asked him to strip,” the Akali Dal leader said.

Badal said there had been reports that the police had been deputed to gather crowds to harass and humiliate Daler. People were even provided buses and served food by the police, he said, adding that the crowd had been deliberately incited to cause physical harm to the artiste. “Is this the way Punjab police conduct their investigations'” he asked.

The Akali president said this was not the first time that a prominent Punjabi artiste had been humiliated.

A couple of months ago, two popular comedians, Jasvinder Bhalla and Bal Mukand Sharma, were slapped at the civil secretariat here by a senior officer for making fun of chief minister Amarinder Singh. Both comedians later denied that they were humiliated.

Fellow comedian Jaspal Bhatti had protested the treatment meted out to Bhalla and Sharma.

The two comedians have released a new cassette, Jhankata 2003, which is being publicised as an “offering of revenge”.

“Such incidents only reveal the attitude of the Congress government towards Punjabi art and culture,” Badal said.

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