Little India: Overseas Indian, NRI, Asian Indian, Indian American

Pop Singer Daler Mehndi Gets 2-Year Jail for Human Trafficking

Daler Mehndi

Indian Punjabi pop singer Daler Mehndi, who was popular in the 1990s, was granted bail on March 16 after being sentenced to two years in prison by the Patiala court for human trafficking in 2003.

The singer and his brother Shamsher were sentenced for sending people abroad as part of their dance group. The brothers also charged a large fee from people they were illegally sending abroad.

The duo was accused by 35 people who were charged “passage fees” but were not relocated to the United States. It was also alleged that the brothers took two dance groups to the United Statese in 1998 and 1999 as a troupe, and illegally left 10 people there.

Bakhshish Singh of Balbhera village of Patiala district was the main complainant in the case registered in 2003 at Patiala sadar police station. The singer was arrested after the case was registered, and was released on bail after a few days.

The singer, who is known for hit songs such as Bolo tara rara and Tunak tunak tun, was forced to remove his trousers and sing his popular songs by the investigating team interrogating him in 2003, according to the Tribune. He was asked to remove his pants to ascertain an identifying mark on his body, it added.

Mehndi also submitted the United States Embassy records of troupes taken abroad by him in five years to the Patiala police in 2003. He said the allegation of hundreds of persons being sent abroad in a racket should be handled by the Interpol, United States’ FBI or the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and not the Patiala police.

He had said that he didn’t take any Punjabi people with him during his trips abroad since 1998. “I have been taking only 12 musicians as members of my troupe and have not taken any bhangra or giddha team ever,” he said, adding that all of them were brought back to India.

The Punjab Human Rights Committee (PHRC) had also said that the CBI should be handling a case of human trafficking that involves VVIPs, cultural and religious organizations, NGOs and other sections of society, instead of only the police.