Song of the road: Trafficking drugs to build villages
Men held in US-canada drug ring used money to build facilities in Punjab, reports Amit Sharma.india Updated: Jun 29, 2008 02:13 IST
Meet the modern day Robin Hoods – three young men from a village in Punjab – who robbed Uncle Sam to pay Peters of two villages near Jagraon lead a better life. A large part of their profits came from cocaine trafficking in Canada and the US, running into some crores of rupees, which were used to construct roads, improve civic amenities and marrying off the poor.
Drug busters in USA may describe them as “close to the top ranks” of a drug running organisation in US and Canada, but for the beneficiaries of their largesse, the villagers, they are nothing less than ‘faristey’ (angels).
Officials from the Bakersfiled Drug Enforcement Wing arrested them yesterday for drug running. Harjeet Mann (39) of Gureh village, Jasdev Singh (33), and Sukhraj Dhaliwal (38) of Cheemna village near Jagraon, were in possession of 180 kg of cocaine and US $845,000 in cash when undercover agents of Kern County Sherrif’s department nabbed them.
Shock and disbelief was the reaction of the villagers who only remember their large donations for religious causes, building roads and civic amenities. “Ever since the trio settled in the US, they have been donating generously and selflessly and always chose to be secret donors,” said Amrjit Singh, former sarpanch of village Cheema.
Son of religious singer (granthi) in village Gurdwara, Sukhraj migrated to USA some 12 years ago, while his friend Harjit Singh left Punjab in the early nineties and became an owner of a fleet of 24-7 Truck Wash. Later, the trio joined hands to operate their transport business and started transporting drugs from US and Canada by “concealing” them in various parts of vehicles, said police officials.
The locals said whenever Sukhraj visited his village he preferred to keep a low profile and restrained from attending public functions except the sports tournaments for which he used to donate money. Surinder Singh Darshi, another villager, said that Sukhraj and Harjeet refused to even sit on stage and watched the tournament from public gallery only. Recalling several instances wherein the duo had arranged money for marriages of poor couples and paid school fee of needy children, the locals said most of the philanthropy they practiced was as ‘anonymous” donors.
Meanwhile, the Jagraon police said the trio had a “clean” record with no criminal background. “Though they belong to respectable families and have no links with criminals or drug traffickers, we have formed a team to probe such links, if any, here in Punjab”, Deputy Superintendent of Police (detective) Satnam Singh told HT.