By Jaideep Sarin, Chandigarh, Nov 13 IANS | 12 months ago

While busting a multi-million US dollar international drugs racket being run from Punjab, the state police have chanced upon the fact that sports was being used as a medium to run the whole racket. Not only that, the drugs-sports nexus also has a definite 'Kabootarbaazi' (illegal immigration) link to it, senior Punjab Police officials said.


At least four people of Punjab-origin based in Canada are now under the scanner for helping out international wrestler-turned-police officer-turned-drugs kingpin Jagdish Bhola in his multi-million drugs network which fanned from India to Europe, Canada and Britain.

Those being investigated in Canada now are: Dara Singh Mathoda, promoter of the Azadi Kabaddi Club based in Vancouver, former kabaddi player Sarabjit Singh alias Nick based in Delta (British Columbia), Nirankara Singh Dhillon based in Brampton (Ontario), and Harbans Sidhu based in Toronto.

Mathoda used to annually organise a cash-rich kabaddi tournament in his village near Phagwara town, 150 km from here. Last year, the first prize for the winner was a Rs.10-lakh SUV.

People involved in the racket from Britain and Holland are also being probed, Patiala district police chief H.S. Mann told IANS.

The names of foreign nationals from China, Vietnam and other countries have also figured during interrogation of those arrested, including Bhola, Mann said.

"The information was shared with the Police Liaison Officer in the Canadian High Commission, New Delhi, by the Punjab Police in a high-level meeting presided over by Punjab Additional Director General of Police, Intelligence, Hardeep Singh Dhillon. Particulars of recipients in UK and Holland have also been collected," Mann said.

The Patiala police tracked down Bhola and his four associates near the Haryana-Delhi border and arrested them with synthetic drugs worth over Rs.18 crore Monday.

Bhola was on the radar of the state police ever since they busted a Rs.700-crore synthetic drugs racket March this year and arrested over 25 people, including two Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) of Punjab origin.

Bhola, an Arjuna Award (highest sport award in the country given by the government) winner in 1997, was dismissed as deputy superintendent of police (DSP) by Punjab Police after he got involved in the drugs trade.

Mann said Bhola and his gang were able to smuggle over 300 kg of synthetic drugs like Ice (M-amphetamine) and other drugs like heroin by hiding these inside sports equipment.

Punjab Police, after arresting Bhola and conducting raids at various places from where he operated, found that his gang was also indulging in 'Kabootarbaazi' (pigeon flight) or illegal immigration of Punjabi youth to the West.

During a raid in Patel Nagar in New Delhi, the police found a visa stamping machine, forged visa stamps, several passports and other documents which showed that the gang was sending youth to other countries illegally.

"The stamping machine was used for affixing fake visas of foreign countries, including the US, Canada and European countries. Jagdish Bhola was staying in two flats in Patel Nagar owned by one Harmohinder Singh of Phillaur (near Ludhiana), a travel agent. Harmohinder is presently absconding," Mann said.

One of the associates of Bhola, Sarabjit Singh, arrested with him Monday, was a master vehicle thief who operated in Haryana, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi and Punjab. He was involved in other crimes like kidnapping, dacoity and robberies also, Mann said.

(Jaideep Sarin can be contacted at jaideep.s@ians.in)

(Posted on 13-11-2013)