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Indian rock star gives himself up

Mehndi (R) in a 1999 file photo during a visit to troops heading to Kashmir.
Mehndi (R) in a 1999 file photo during a visit to troops heading to Kashmir.

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NEW DELHI, India -- Hundreds of fans of India's top rock star Daler Menhdi have turned to foes, jeering and heckling the Punjabi singer after he gave himself up to police to face charges of human trafficking.

Carrying banners and placards, a mob of 1,500 greeted Mehndi, 36, late Monday as he entered the police station in India's northern Punjab state, throwing paint on his Mercedes car and blocking his way, the Press Trust of India reported.

"Daler Mehndi die die," screamed some fans. Others tried to assault the turbaned star as he braved the crowd before entering into the police station, PTI reported.

Mehndi, who has sold millions of his Punjabi-language albums across India and the Punjabi diaspora, is charged with 31 counts of immigration law violations and had been in hiding for almost a month.

Patiala city police -- who have registered complaints of human trafficking against Mehndi-- have alleged the rock star used his tours to Western cities as a cover for an illegal immigration racket.

Mehndi and his brother Shamsher Singh Shera are accused of facilitating the illegal migration of people who allegedly traveled as part of the singer's troupe during overseas tours. Shamsher was arrested earlier this month and both men's wives are also facing charges.

Police described Mehndi as adopting a "non-cooperative attitude" during his seven hours of questioning on Monday.

"Since it was not a custodial interrogation or questioning, the singer evaded answers to many questions including the number of people taken abroad or the method of taking them abroad," superintendent of police R. Monga was quoted as saying in the PTI report.

But Mehndi, who was accompanied by his lawyer during the questioning, described his interrogation as "nice" and "unique experience." The rock star even claimed to have sung some of his popular tunes to detectives, PTI reported.

Mehndi was set to undergo more questioning on Tuesday. He was granted 10 days bail in advance from the Delhi High Court against his possible detention on the weekend.

Mehndi-- whose 1999 debut album "Ho Jayega Balle Balle" cut a new groove in contemporary Punjabi music -- faces a maximum life sentence if convicted.


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