Maninder took cocaine to relieve stress: Police


New Delhi : Former national cricketer Maninder Singh, who was Wednesday granted bail a day after being arrested for possessing cocaine, has confessed he had been taking banned drugs for a few years occasionally to relieve marital stress, a senior police official said.

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"Maninder confessed that he was consuming the drugs for the past few years. He did so occasionally to deal with family problems. He first took drugs 10 years ago in Holland," a senior investigating official told IANS.

"Maninder and his wife had a strained relationship but they had agreed to continue to live together for the sake of their children, a daughter and a son," the official added.

Maninder was arrested with another former cricketer Saim Siddiqui in a raid conducted at the former's Gagan Vihar residence in east Delhi Tuesday. The duo were planning to go to Mumbai when they were caught.

"It was Siddiqui who mostly procured drugs for Maninder. He is very faithful to Maninder and was giving him contrabands in limited amounts to help him prevent overdose," the official said on condition of anonymity.

The official further added that Maninder had authorized Siddiqui to make all financial transactions on his behalf.

"Siddiqui was not charging him (for drugs) on a regular basis. He provided drugs to Maninder in small doses after purchasing it in quantity from a south Delhi-based drug peddler, Aslam. Maninder used to inhale drugs once in 20 days," he added.

Deputy Commissioner of Police A.S. Cheema earlier told a press conference: "Maninder and Siddiqui were arrested while exchanging drugs. Maninder told us that he used to procure drugs from Siddiqui, who purchased them from a south Delhi-based drug peddler."

Earlier in the day, a city court granted bail to Maninder but remanded Siddiqui in two days' police custody.

Special Judge S.C. Kaushik of the anti-narcotics court at Karkardooma in east Delhi granted bail to Maninder on a personal bond of Rs.50,000 with a surety of the same amount.

The judge held that Maninder was in possession of one and a half grams of cocaine, which was below the stipulated limit of three grams for personal consumption and attracted lighter charges of drug abuse under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.

The court, however, remanded Siddiqui, who gives cricket coaching to children at the National Sports Club of India, in police custody for two days for further investigations into the matter.

Possession of drugs that is above three grams is deemed to be meant for commercial transaction and attracts non-bailable serious charges of drug peddling under the NDPS Act.

Police had sought seven days' police custody for Siddiqui arguing that he had to be interrogated and taken to various places in neighbouring states to unearth a larger drug syndicate operating in the national capital region.

Maninder represented India in 35 Test matches and 59 one-day internationals. With his slow left-arm orthodox spin, he was considered an heir to the legendary Bishan Singh Bedi, who had then held the record as India's leading spinner in terms of wickets.

Though now retired from active cricket, Maninder is still connected to the game as a TV commentator.

Maninder played international cricket for India for 11 years. He made his Test debut against Pakistan in 1983 at Karachi. His ODI debut, also in the same year, was against Zimbabwe in New Delhi. He has to his name 88 scalps in Tests and 66 in ODIs.

Siddiqui had played for the Delhi Ranji trophy team.