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Court convicts 2 accused for sending 9 people to Germany impersonating as artists

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: October 10, 2019  | 19:52 IST

New Delhi, Oct 10 (PTI) A Delhi court Thursday convicted two persons for sending nine people to Germany impersonating as artists promoting Indian culture at the state exchequer's expense in 2005. According to the prosecution, in 2005, 15 persons were sent to Berlin, Germany, by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) as a Bhangra group named 'Mehak Punjab Di', which they had got registered with the help of fake photographs, staged VCDs, album, news ­clippings, commendation certificates, purportedly issued by many religious, social and cultural organisations. While others came back, the nine people, who were not artists, stayed in Germany. The court noted that a loss of Rs 6.79 lakh was caused to the government exchequer on various counts. Special Judge Inder Jeet Singh convicted Shiv Kumar Sharma and Balwinder Bawa for criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery and forging documents and electronic records and they face maximum seven years jail term. The court however discharged Rakesh Kumar, a former Director General, ICCR, holding that the sanction order to prosecute him was not valid. The court noted that the group was registered with ICCR for promotion of Indian cultural abroad and members were to go there to perform. "Many members are non-artist but their applications were filled in as artists, some members in group did not know Bhangra, even one of them was specially-­abled child, but their names were included in the group, since the purpose was to go abroad and then defect there, it was done too. "Had it been made known the purpose, there would have been no approval or visa but it was done under the garb of empanel of 'Mehak Punjab Di'. The sinister design was from the inception, that is why 'artists' was mentioned in applications for official passports and members of the group had defected in Berlin," the court said. The court will hear arguments on punishment to both the accused persons on October 22. Another accused, Hargulab Singh, had turned approver and was pardoned by the court on February 26, 2011. The forth accused -- Gurbhej Singh -- was acquitted of charges framed against him for the lack of evidence against him. According to the prosecution, in 2005, 15 persons applied for a Bhangra group named 'Mehak Punjab Di' with four photographs, visiting card, entry identity card pass of Jallandhar Doordarshan, supplemented with fake photographs, staged VCDs, album, news ­clippings, commendation certificates, purported to have been issued by many religious, social and cultural organisations. It was further empanelled with ICCR, New Delhi, by bribing and other considerations to public servants. Thereafter, the 15 persons under the group were sent on official passports and expenses of ICCR to Berlin for performance as artists that too creating hurriedly deemed to be requirement there. The nine people had paid money through Shiv Kumar to Rakesh Kumar. PTI UK SJK SA

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