CHENNAI: Former India skipper Sardar Singh was called in for questioning by West Yorkshire Police a day after the team beat Pakistan 7-1 at the ongoing World League semifinal in London. It is believed to be regarding the case of Ashpal Bhogal, a former junior British hockey player.
Here's a little refresher: Bhogal, who claimed to have met Sardar during the 2012 Olympics, had alleged that he was torturing her "mentally, physically and emotionally". The former England Under-19 player, a person of Indian origin, had originally filed a case with the Ludhiana police in February last year. They formed a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the matter and after three months declared that there was no evidence and allegations of rape were 'false'.
The matter looked to have been closed until Sunday morning BST when one of the team management received a call from Yorkshire Police requesting Sardar come for questioning. "You have to be here as there is a complaint against Sardar," was the message the Indian team management received from the police headquarters at Leeds. Sardar was asked to come on Sunday itself but as there was a match, he travelled to Leeds on Monday. A source confirmed to Express that neither the team management nor Sardar had been briefed about the situation before he left for Leeds.
Meanwhile, Hockey India sources said it was not right on the part of West Yorkshire police to summon Sardar without informing the Indian High Commission because he was representing India and not there as a tourist. "England hockey should have helped us. If the same thing had happened in India we would have extended all our support but they did not come forward," the source said. Hockey India (HI) also said they would extend all possible support to Sardar and will not let him be arrested or put in jail. Coach Jugraj Singh has accompanied Sardar to Leeds.
The issue was highlighted on social media by former HI chief and current FIH president Narinder Batra where he alleged it was a conspiracy to demoralise the Indian team. "... Sardar will take five hours to go to Leeds then five hours to come back and how many hours at the police station? And they play against Holland tomorrow (Tuesday)." The Facebook post was later withdrawn even as FIH said the statement was made in his personal capacity. "The FIH would like to emphasize that these comments were the personal thoughts of Dr Batra and not representative of the views of the FIH."
Back to the tournament and indications are Sardar who is heading back to London on Monday night will be a part of the match against the Netherlands. "There is still time for that, so let's see," a member of the team management said. India, who have already qualified for the quarterfinals, will top their group if they beat Netherlands.