The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Third degree alarm for ‘tired’ Daler

Chandigarh, Oct. 28: A police officer has said investigators will not hesitate to use third degree methods against Bhangra pop star Daler Mehndi to learn more about the Rs 1,000-crore human trafficking racket in Punjab.

Patiala police registered a case earlier this month against Daler, his brother Shamsher Singh Shera and three others after a villager complained he was cheated by the duo who had promised to send him abroad. Bakshish Singh alleged that he paid Rs 13 lakh out of the Rs 15 lakh demanded by Daler and Shamsher, who is now in judicial custody, but was not sent abroad.

A senior Punjab police officer today said his force was ready to extract the truth from Daler if Delhi High Court grants them custody of the singer. Daler has been granted interim bail till November 1.

“We are waiting for him to talk, not sing, while he is being questioned. We are aware that Daler knows a lot and has been flying people out in his troupes. We will use all methods to make him talk, even third degree if needed. His singer brother Mika, too, may be questioned,” a senior officer said, on condition of anonymity.

State police are going to great lengths to establish how the racket was being run. “Too many people have lost everything they possessed because they were promised a ticket to the West. It is a blot on Punjabis,” the officer said.

“We would like to get to the bottom of the affair. We know that the money received from aspiring immigrants is split between the promoter and the singer and both genuine and fake visas are used to take people abroad. We would also like to know what happens to the women who go as dancers and are often sexually abused,” he added.

Daler, who says he “wants to spread joy throughout the world with his music”, was escorted by a police vehicle to the Patiala Sadar police station around 3 pm today, on his second day of questioning. Accompanied by Mika and lawyer Ravinder Kumar, he was quizzed for over three hours.

The singer said he was not sure if he would appear for interrogation tomorrow. “I may take a break tomorrow as I am feeling tired,” he added.

Daler denied accusations that he was not cooperating. “I am cooperating and if they are not satisfied, what can I do'” he asked. “I was with them for nearly seven hours yesterday and here I am today. All I want is an end to the issue which is hurting not only singers everywhere in the country but also Punjabis.”

Daler said he would ask Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to ensure that people do not sully the reputation of artistes.

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