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Richmond men wanted for alleged role in Indian drug ring

Interpol has issued red notices for nine Canadians believed to be involved in billion-dollar smuggling network
Ranjit Dara Aujla is wanted in India on drug smuggling charges.

Nine Canadians, including several Metro Vancouver men, are wanted for drug smuggling in India in a high-profile case linked to a former Punjabi cop and wrestling champion.

This week, Interpol issued red notices — similar to international warrants — for the Canadians, including Ranjit “Dara” Aujla, a Richmond man and the former president of the B.C. Kabaddi Federation.

Aujla told The Vancouver Sun Wednesday that he’ll go to India “to fight the case.”

He said he’s innocent of the allegations, which have been swirling as rumours and occasional news reports since the 2013 arrest in Punjab of Jagdish Bhola, the former cop and wrestler.

At the time, Indian police alleged Bhola was the kingpin of a billion-dollar network supplying heroin and methamphetamine to North America and Europe through Canadian contacts who smuggled drugs out of India.

Aujla said Wednesday that he has never met Bhola, though once saw him wrestle when he was on a Canadian tour.

Aujla said he thinks the charges against him are political since he has helped the Congress Party in his home village in Punjab — a state where Congress rival Akali Dal rules.

He only learned of the Interpol warrant when a reporter called him this week.

“I swear on my kids’ lives I am innocent. I have two beautiful kids. I never did anything wrong. I don’t know what’s happening,” Aujla said.

He said he was in Punjab when Bhola was arrested, yet was never questioned or taken into custody.

“I hired the lawyer to check if there’s any case against me in India,” he said. “And my lawyer said there’s nothing going on.”

He said he only knows one of the other eight Canadians implicated — a Surrey man named Lehmber Daleh, who used to be a kabaddi player.

Another Richmond resident listed on Interpol’s most wanted list is 60-year-old Parminder Singh Deo.

Deo told The Sun Wednesday that he’s innocent and doesn’t know Bhola, who reportedly implicated the Canadians.

Deo, who is retired, said he has hired a lawyer in Punjab to get more information about the case.

He said he hasn’t been in India in four years and doesn’t know Aujla or the other Canadians charged.

“I am very shocked from this news because in India, someone sitting in jail, he is telling all the stories,” Deo said.

“I don’t know what’s going on. I have also written to the head of police in Chandigarh because I want to know what the charges are. I was not in India. I was in Canada.”

He said his lawyer has a Sept. 28 court date to get more information.

The Interpol warrant is also surprising because Deo said he has provided Indian officials of his addresses in Canada and in India, as well as his contact number.

“I am not hiding or anything,” he said. “They have all my records.”

Deo said he has not been contacted by Canadian officials about any pending extradition hearing.

Canadian Justice department media officer Andrew Gowing wouldn’t comment on whether extradition requests have been made.

“Due to the confidential nature of state-to-state communications, the Government can neither confirm nor deny whether extradition requests have been received related to these individuals,” Gowing said.

No one at the Indian consulate in Vancouver returned calls Wednesday about the case.

Other Canadians wanted in the case are Daleh, 51, Sarabjit Singh Sandar, 51, Harbans Singh Sidhu, 57, Nirankar Singh Dhillon, 53, Gursewak Singh Dhillon, 44, Amarjit Singh, 59, and Pardip Singh, 38.

Sandar also lives in Metro Vancouver. Details of where the others reside was not published on the Interpol list.