Punjabi pop star Daler Mehndi convicted for smuggling migrants

The singer, popular in 1990s and early 2000s, says he will appeal

Daler Mehndi – Photo: Daler Mehndi Facebook page

Popular Punjabi singer Daler Mehndi has been sentenced to two years in prison for smuggling migrants abroad, but has maintained his innocence in his latest statement after the verdict was announced.

The Indian pop star and six others were accused in 2003 of cheating people of large sums of money by falsely promising to take them to Western countries. The singer was convicted on Friday in the northern state of Punjab. But he was released on bail soon after, reports BBC.

Mehndi is one of the most popular Punjabi singers of the 1990s and early 2000s, and also has a following abroad.

In an entry in his Facebook page, Daler says: “This case has been going on since last 14 years with my brother, who unfortunately passed away last year, as the main accused. Even after the court found no evidence against me, with the assumption that my brother was under my umbrella, the court has put out this verdict. This saddens me but I have complete faith in God that truth will come out soon. We will approach the session’s court for justice.”

The BBC report noted that in 1998 and 1999, he had allegedly taken at least 10 migrants, disguised as dancers in his ensemble, to the United States and returned without them. After police in Punjab registered a case against him, about 35 people reportedly accused him of fraud. They said he had taken money from them for taking them abroad but had failed to do so.

Mehndi said he will appeal the conviction in a higher court.

He sang in several Bollywood films but he is best known for his music videos in bhangra pop, a bouncy electronic genre inspired by the traditional dance tunes of Punjab.

Mehndi’s debut album sold over 20 million copies. He has given stage performances in about 18 countries including the UK, US and Singapore, the report added.


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(Asia Samachar, 23  Sept 2017)


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