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IFS officer charged in trafficking case

The CBI files chargesheet against an Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer and a Punjabi singer for their alleged involvement in trafficking nine persons to Berlin 3 years ago.

india Updated: Feb 24, 2008 10:56 IST

An Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer and a Punjabi singer are among five persons who have been chargesheeted by the CBI for their alleged involvement in trafficking nine persons to Berlin three years ago.

The investigating agency, while filing the chargesheet in a court in New Delhi, said, "In 2005, Rakesh Kumar, former director general Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) facilitated empanelling of a bogus cultural group, Mehak Punjab Di, and illegally trafficked nine individuals to Berlin misusing his official position."

In the chargesheet, the CBI accused Kumar -- who had also served as special secretary, Ministry of External Affairs -- of "human trafficking for a monetary consideration" in a conspiracy involving Punjabi singer Balwinder Bawa and others.

"He directed to send a team of 15 members comprising inexperienced and untrained Punjabi folk dancers to Germany on government sponsorship before his transfer from ICCR," the CBI claimed.

Invoking penal provisions of the cheating, forgery and others of the Prevention of Corruption Act, the agency said that out of 15 members group, nine members had defected after their performance at the Indian Embassy in Berlin in September 2005 as part of the conspiracy.

Besides Kumar, the agency also accused Shiv Kumar Sharma the then Punjab Agriculture University employee, Harghulab Singh, a Punjab-based farmer, Balwinder Bawa a Punjabi singer and Gurbhej Singh, constable of Punjab Armed Police of various offences in the case registered with it on November 22, 2005.

A bogus cultural group Mehak Punjab Di was formed in 2005 after Harghulab contacted Sharma for sending his son Randeep abroad, it said.

Acting allegedly on behalf of Kumar, Sharma asked Harghulab to collect Rs 7.5 lakh from each member of the group, who wanted to stay back in Germany following their performance.

He also collected Rs one lakh from each member for allegedly paying Kumar, who allegedly facilitated empanelment of their troupe with the ICCR.

Kumar, on his part, allegedly prevailed upon the embassy officials at Berlin for allowing the troupe to perform on the intervening night of September 14-15, 2005.

Harghulab and his son broke away from the group on the same night while the other seven slipped away the next day, the CBI alleged, adding that Sharma did not report the matter to the embassy there.