A court in Patiala on Friday convicted famous bhangra-pop singer Daler Mehndi in a 15-year-old human trafficking case. He was sentenced to two years in jail and was later granted bail.
Police had registered a case against Mehndi, his brother Shamsher Singh -- who died in last October -- 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.
A 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 was subsequently arrested and released on bail after a few days.
Pleading innocence, Daler told the media on Friday: "I have been granted bail. We will appeal in a higher court."
Police had earlier moved two petitions before the court saying that Daler was not required in the case as he had nothing to do with the immigration fraud, called 'kabootarbaazi' -- meaning flying pigeons referring to numerous youth in Punjab trying to use illegal means to settle abroad.
Daler was arrested by the police in October 2003 along with Shamsher after the complainant said he was duped of a huge sum of money by the brothers, 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 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'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" angry mob surrounded their vehicles.