Olympian bronze medallist Vijender Singh will be questioned in connection with the recent recovery of 26 kg of heroin worth Rs 130 crore, Punjab police said today as his sparring partner Ram Singh was expelled from the National Institute of Sports (NIS) camp after admitting that he consumed drugs.
Police arrested another accused Sunil Katyal, who was engaged to check the "purity and quality" of the drug, from Ludhiana. With this, the total number of persons arrested in this case has gone up to seven.
"We will be summoning Vijender for questioning. However, at present, the focus of our investigation is to catch other smugglers in this case," Fatehgarh Sahib SSP Hardyal Singh Mann told PTI over phone here.
"Let us arrest the 3-4 key accused in the case and then we will focus on Vijender," he said.
Serving as a head constable with Punjab police, Ram Singh, also Vijender's roommate, was expelled from the NIS after after admitting that he had consumed drugs with Vijender on several occasions.
"Ram will be relieved from the national camp here from tomorrow," NIS executive director L S Ranawat said. 27-year-old Vijender, a DSP with Haryana police, has denied any involvement in the illegal drugs trade or to taking drugs.
Ram, who was grilled for the third consecutive day today, has not been arrested so far.
He is being questioned on a day-to-day basis following the arrest of alleged drug peddler and NRI Anoop Singh Kahlon. Police had recovered 26 kg of heroin worth Rs 130 Crore from his house at Zirakpur, on the outskirts of Chandigarh.
"On the interrogation of Kahlon and six others arrested in the case, the names of 4-5 persons engaged in the drug trade in the region has emerged," Mann said adding that police was conducting raids at various places to arrest them.
The Haryana police too is keeping a tab on Vijender after his name cropped up in the case, official sources said adding that a SP-level officer of crime branch was in constant touch with the Punjab police in this case.
A Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) registered in the name of Vijender's wife Archana was found near Kahlon's residence on the day of the raids.
"The scrutiny of phone call details of Vijender have revealed that he was in touch with Kahlon," sources said.
Ram admitted that he and Vijender had on a few occasions one to three grams of heroin given to them by Kahlon, who had attempted suicide under police custody yesterday.
Sources said that Singh had told police that he had met Kahlon in the past but feigned ignorance about his criminal connections.
During questioning, Ram had earlier claimed that he and Vijender had consumed in "little quantity" some substance, which later turned out to be heroin, as a "food supplement".
Ram told the Fatehgarh Sahib police that Kahlon had first given him about 2 grams of heroin in December last year without charging money.
After that, between January 1 and February 26 this year, he and Vijender had consumed the drug on 2-3 occasions.
He also said that the first time Vijender had taken the contraband was when the duo was driving from Chandigarh to NIS Patiala.
Vijender's brother Manoj Kumar said he smelt a "conspiracy" behind the star boxer's name being linked in the drug haul case.
"It's a conspiracy to defame him and malign his name. He will come out clean as he has never touched any drug," Kumar said.
Meanwhile, a team of Punjab police today raided dismissed DSP Jagdish Singh Bhola's relatives factory in village Jhamnpur of district Fatehgarh Sahib as a follow up to the recovery of heroin haul.
"After the raid, two persons have been rounded up and are being interrogated," police sources said.
Police is conducting raids at suspected hide outs to arrest Bhola, an Arjun awardee wrestler, who is suspected to be the kingpin of a gang recently busted by Fatehgarh Sahib police with the arrest of Kahlon.
Incidentally, a day before the arrest of Kahlon, the NIS had conducted surprise checks on the rooms of all sportspersons attending coaching camps here in various disciplines and nothing objectionable was found, national boxing coach GS Sandhu said.
On July 2011, the Punjab health department raided 11 chemist shops outside the NIS at Patiala and seized steroids and other banned drugs allegedly used by the sportsmen from three shops.
Source said that the chemist shops that sell anabolic steroids to the athletes are strategically located outside the NIS centre. Eight national athletes who got training in NIS had failed in doping test in the recent past.
However, the NIS today contested the claim of boxer Ram that he and Vijender had taken some substance as "food supplement" which later turned out to be heroin saying the premier national sports body has a well laid out system of ensuring proper diet, including food supplement's to sports persons.
Vijender, a former world number one, gave India its first Olympic medal in boxing when he clinched a bronze at the 2008 Beijing Games. Besides, he is an Asian Games gold- medallist and a multiple-time Commonwealth Games medallist.
Considered the poster boy of Indian boxing, Vijender has stated that he does not know Kahlon.
An NRI of Canadian origin, Kahlon is allegedly known internationally in the drug cartel.
Sandhu came to the defence of Vijender. "He (Vijender) never took any medicine without checking it first. He is more conscious that he will undergo the dope test and he knows the risks. He has been training with us for the past 10 years and he has undergone tests regularly. When he was tested for drugs before Olympics, his tests came negative," Sandhu said.
Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said in Jhajjar that he does not think that Vijender has any involvement in the drug case.