For over a decade, former star wrestler and dismissed cop Jagdish Singh Bhola allegedly ran a drug racket centred around Punjab, but the focus on the smuggling business came only after he was arrested most recently in January last year.
Since then, the drug business has grabbed eyeballs and gained political traction. Questions, however, remain over the various state and central agencies that were meant to check such activities. Details of the police probe and Bhola’s interrogation report — accessed by HT — show how the business grew and agencies failed to curb the Arjuna Awardee ex-sportsman’s drug activities since 2002.
FROM THE START
The roots go back to 2000, when, as per the police interrogation report, two men named Baljinder Singh Bagga and Joginder Singh approached Bhola (who was then a police inspector) at an akhara (wrestling arena) near Khanna; they offered him `1 lakh if he let their vehicle carrying poppy husk pass through without check. Bhola refused.
Desperation came in 2002 when, as per the interrogation, a visa agent took away `32 lakh that some people had paid to the agent through Bhola. Then, Bhola got back in touch with smuggler Joginder Singh, a Phillaur resident, and offered to escort his narcotics-carrying vehicle from Barnala to Rampura Phul in Bathinda. Bhola was arrested and served nine months in jail in Bathinda. By 2005, he was dismissed from the state police, as per the report.
CANADA, BADDI, MUMBAI
Bhola went to Khanna and continued his wrestling at the Miri Piri Sri Hargobind Sahib akhara where he met a man name Sonu from Canada, says the report. Sonu, who had a chemical factory at Baddi (Himachal Pradesh), got Bhola to visit him in Canada in 2007 and offered him to be part of a racket that produced and smuggled a chemical narcotic called ‘Ice’. In 2008 Sonu returned to India and took a flat in Ludhiana.
Bhola and Sonu started preparing ‘ICE’ in Baddi. But Bhola was arrested by the NCB in Mumbai with a consignment of 25kg ‘Ice’ that was allegedly to be delivered to a man named Anil Mathur there.
The police report claims that during his stay in a Mumbai jail for 17 months where, Bhola came in contact with gangsters Abu Salem and Mustafa Dossi, and five other members of Dawood Ibrahim’s gang ‘D-company’ who were behind bars for the 1993 Mumbai blasts.
After his release, claim the police, Bhola arranged Sonu’s meet with a “person based in Sector 32 of Chandigarh” and they got a place at Patiala focal point where they prepared ‘Ice’.
They then expanded the network to include some Nigerians, and a significant addition, according to the police, was Amarinder Singh alias Laddi, a resident of Amritsar. In 2012, Sarabjeet Singh alias Nikku, another Canada resident, met Bhola in Phase 10, SAS Nagar, having already known him from a meeting in Canada in 1997-98, says the report.
Then they got in touch with Anoop Singh Kahlon, a constable with the Punjab police, and subsequently Kahlon decided to send narcotic chemical pseudo ephedrine to Australia. Kahlon roped in his cousin Devinder Singh Happy for the business, alleges the police report.
In 2013-14, the racket was busted by a team led by then Fatehgarh Sahib senior superintendent of police (SSP) Hardial Singh Mann.
Since then, it has gained heat and some politicians have been quizzed too. But no specific answers are forthcoming as to how the smuggling business expanded and flourished over the years.
Zirakpur transit point
According to the police probe report, drugs were being smuggled by the Bola racket in Toyota Innovas, and Zirakpur was a transit point for Delhi-bound consignments. Amarinder Laddi, an Amritsar resident, brought the drugs produced at different locations up to Rupnagar, while another man named Satinder Singh delivered the consignment to Zirakpur in another Innova. There, Anoop Singh Kahlon took it and made a man identified as Dhami deliver it to Delhi.
Bhola received training
The police report also claims Bhola had bought two houses in Phase 10 of SAS Nagar where he got some Chinese men to train him in preparing chemical narcotic ‘Ice’. A boiler used for the purpose later busted, and the racket shifted the production base to Fatehgarh Sahib.