Indian hockey captain Sardar Singh addresses allegations of sexual assault by fiancee
The current captain of the Indian field hockey team, center half Sardar Singh, addressed several allegations – among them those of sexual assault – levelled on him by his alleged fiancee – in a press conference today.
29-year-old Sardar stands accused of sexual harassment by Ashpal Kaur Bhogal, who is part of Great Britain’s international hockey team. 21-year-old Bhogal met the Indian hockey captain over Facebook, a fact he acknowledged at today’s press conference.
The pair met in person at the 2012 London Olympics, following which Bhogal says they began a relationship.
Bhogal tweeted last year that the pair had become engaged, with the Indian captain retweeting the news on social media. He has now denied the engagement altogether, saying Bhogal logged into his social media accounts and posted the news.
Sardar acknowledged knowing the woman, but denied that the two were engaged, describing the allegations as ‘untrue,’ and saying he would address them in the press conference.
Addressing media in Chandigarh, Singh said he “still respected her,” but said in Hindi “the words she used were hurtful.” He completely denied allegations that he had raped Bhogal, saying that she had access to his social media and email.
In the most recent developments in the case, Bhogal has said Sardar forced her to terminate her pregnancy, which Sardar said in the press conference he was “completely unaware of,” telling assembled media personnel that it was the “first time” he had even heard about it.
Sardar is currently playing in the Hockey India League for the Jaypee Punjab Warriors, and said he would wait for the police report the complainant, Bhogal, had filed in Haryana, following which asserted he would take ‘definite legal action.’
Support from Hockey India
Yesterday, a Hockey India official, under the condition of anonymity, spoke out in support of Sardar, saying that Bhogal had been ‘blackmailing’ him.
“I can't interfere in anybody's personal life, but I know of the situation for the last two years. She has been stalking him for the past two years, and the coaches have also noted that - be it Roelant [Oltmans], [Terry] Walsh or [Paul] van Ass. She was at times also told to leave the team hotel," the official told IBNLive.
“This girl is blackmailing him; that's the factual situation. This is what players and officials have told me. Sardar has my full support on this issue," he added.
Shocking new developments, confirmation from Indian hockey teammates
Even as Sardar hosted a press conference to rubbish allegations, two members of the Indian hockey team, who also chose to remain anonymous, said they had seen Bhogal with him at the team’s hotel in Belgium, with the squad having played at the Hockey World League semi-finals in Antwerp last year.
"This girl has been associated with Sardar for quite some time and even traveled for our matches. But we realised there was a problem between them during the Hockey World League in Antwerp last year," the player told NDTV.
He said he had heard fights between the pair, one so serious that local police in Antwerp got involved. "The Indian team was staying at Crowne Plaza Hotel and this girl had also booked a room there. One evening when we returned from practice, we saw a couple of Belgium police officers at our hotel. They had come on a bike and went straight to Sardar's room. That's when we learnt of the argument between Sardar and this girl, and that she had called the cops,” the player said.
Another player said that they had seen Bhogal at the restaurant the team had breakfast at, and that her face was ‘bruised and battered.’
"As a team, we never discussed this issue, but later learnt from the hotel staff that the argument had turned violent. We were told that the cops went away only because the couple stressed that it was a personal matter, and the girl did not wish to press charges," a second player said.
Singh is yet to respond to the latest revelations.