In a surprising and swift turn of events, Punjabi pop singer Daler Mehndi was granted bail soon after he was convicted in a 2003 human trafficking case by a court in Patiala, and set to be sent to jail for two years.
Daler Mehndi told the reporters outside court, “I have been granted bail. We will appeal in higher court”.
For years, the singer and his brother, deceased Shamsher Singh, had been sending people abroad illegally, claiming they are troupe members. Soon after the Patiala Police registered a case against Daler Mehndi and Shamsher Singh, 35 more complaints came up leveling charges of fraud against the two brothers.
While bail for the singer 30 minutes after his conviction comes as a shocker, the movement of the 15-year-old case has been staggered for long periods. In 2006, Patiala Police had filed two discharge petitions stating Daler Mehndi to be innocent. The court had dismissed those petitions, saying there was enough evidence against him.
The duo used to charge around Rs 1 crore as “passage money” for taking people abroad. But according to the complaints, the deal never matured and the money was never refunded. In 2006, his offices in Delhi’s Connaught Place were raided. Documents, including the case files of those who had paid passage money, were found.
Immoral Trafficking Prevention Act (ITPA) penalizes trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation with seven years’ to life imprisonment. Sections 366 (A) and 372 of the Indian Penal Code prohibit kidnapping and selling minors into prostitution, respectively. Penalties under these provisions are 10 years’ imprisonment and a fine.
Daler Mehndi had a massive following in the late nineties and early 2000s for his pop songs, including the hit numbers “Tunak Tunak Tun”, “Bolo Ta Ra Ra” and “Saade Naal Rahoge Toh…”