Perhaps it was predestined. As the calendar issued by the Narcotics Control Bureau turned to April with Vijender Singh’s picture on the month’s leaf, the Punjab Police turned its attention on him and linked him to a drugs smuggling racket in the state. The 2008 Olympic medallist was suddenly in the news for all the wrong reasons.
After arresting his boxing partner, Ram Singh, last week, the Punjab police claims it has call records and SMSes showing upto 80 conversations between Vijender Singh, 27, and arrested drug dealer Anoop Singh Kehlon. That, coupled with alleged evidence of Vijender having consumed heroin a dozen times between December 2012 and February 2013, sources in the Punjab Police say Vijender’s arrest is only a matter of time.
Hardyal Singh Mann, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Fatehgarh Sahib, told TEHELKA, “Our forensic science team is in touch with some laboratories in the country where Vijender’s nail and hair samples will be sent. Since he has refused to submit them, we will move the court.” Currently there is no FIR against Vijender, which means he is not yet an accused.
In fact, Ram Singh’s name was added later to the initial FIR lodged on 3 March against Kehlon. Following several rounds of questioning and investigations, Ram Singh was finally arrested last week.
Amid the gamut of speculations that have been raked up in this controversy, lawyers argue that the possibility of serious legal ramifications for Vijender seem unlikely, given the current status of the investigation.
Criminal lawyer, Rizwan Merchant says, “At the most, he will be charged with consumption of heroin. While his proximity to Kehlon or Ram Singh may be a reason to interrogate and question him, no substantial proof has been produced to indicate that he was selling or dealing drugs.”
The maximum penalty for consumption of heroin, under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act, 1985, is rigorous imprisonment up to one year or fine up to Rs 20,000 or both. However, consumption of heroin is a bailable offence, while trafficking of the same is a non-bailable offence.