A special CBI court in Mohali Wednesday sentenced former Punjab Police DSP Jagdish Bhola to 12 years of rigorous imprisonment in a multi-crore drugs smuggling case. CBI Judge N S Gill pronounced his verdict in seven FIRs registered against 54 accused in the case. Out of these 54 accused, 23, including Bhola, were held guilty of various charges, while 31 were acquitted.
In 2013, six FIRs were filed against Bhola under the NDPS Act in Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib and Mohali. On Wednesday, the Arjuna Award-winning international wrestler was acquitted in three cases, while being sentenced to 12 years in jail in three others. These included 12 years jail in one case, 10 in another and two years in jail in the third case. All the three sentences will run concurrently, said the court.
In the case relating to the FIR registered against 13 people at Banur police station in 2013, Bhola and two others were sentenced to 10 years in jail and eight other accused were acquitted. In another case, registered at Fatehgarh Sahib, Bhola and another accused, Satinder Dhama, were sentenced to imprisonment for 12 years. In this case, police had recovered 10 kg heroin from Bhola’s possession and 7 kg Methamphetamine was recovered from the possession of Dhama.
In the third case, in connection with the FIR lodged at Fatehgarh Sahib, Bhola and another accused, Dev Raj, were sentenced to two years in jail.
Counsel for those held guilty said that they will challenge the verdict in Punjab and Haryana High Court.“We are not satisfied with the judgment, it seems that the judgment was delivered to protect Punjab Police,” said Shelly Sharma, counsel for one of the convicts.
In 2004, Bhola, then a DSP in Punjab Police, was dismissed from service after poppy husk was recovered from him. In 2013, he was arrested for smuggling pseudoephedrine, a synthetic drug, from India to various other countries.
Police probe revealed that Bhola had amassed properties worth crores by smuggling drugs. At that time, Punjab Police had pegged the entire racket to be worth around Rs 6,000 crore and named Bhola as its kingpin.
Various cases under Prevention of Money Laundering Act were also registered against Bhola and several other accused. The Enforcement Directorate is also probing several cases linked to this multi-crore drug racket. Soon after Bhola’s arrest, names of many Punjab politicians were also linked to the racket.