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Maninder - hooked, caught and bailed

Police say personal problems drove the former cricketer to cocaine, report Vijaita Singh and Ravi Bajpai.
Hindustan Times | By Vijaita Singh & Ravi Bajpai, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAY 24, 2007 04:12 AM IST

Maninder Singh took to drugs about 18 months ago because he was going through a rough patch, said the Delhi Police on Wednesday, a day after the former India cricketer was arrested for possessing cocaine. His lawyer denied the charge, saying the police were trying to frame his client.

"During interrogation, Singh said he resorted to drug abuse as he was under immense pressure due to problems in his personal life," said AS Cheema, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Narcotics).

Singh's lawyer SK Ahluwalia denied that the former cricketer was an addict. "My client has never taken any kind of drugs. There is a rival group in the cricket world that is working against him. The police are trying to implicate him," he said.

Singh was arrested near his Preet Vihar house with 1.5 grams of cocaine hidden in a batting glove, the police said. "He was on his way to catch a flight to Mumbai. He wanted to unwind after a hectic schedule as an expert commentator during the World Cup," Cheema said.

Singh was tested for drugs at the Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital. He tested negative. Later in the day, Additional Sessions Judge SC Malik granted him bail. "On account of the quantity being small, you are released on bail," the judge said.

Saim Nadeem Siddiqui, Singh's assistant at his cricket coaching institute, who had been under police watch for peddling drugs had been arrested along with Singh. He had 100 gram of hashish in his pocket, the police said. Siddiqui denied the charge in court. He was sent to two days in police custody.

"We had specific information that Siddiqui would be coming to deliver the drugs to Maninder Singh in Preet Vihar. We arrested them at around 8.15 am from the Defence Enclave area," said Cheema.

The police said they were on Siddiqui's trail after his name surfaced in the mobile phone records of a drug peddler, Aslam, who was arrested in March. "We found that Aslam was in constant touch with Siddiqui," Cheema said.

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