Haryana Sports and Youth Affairs Minister – Olympian Sandeep Singh has stepped down after a junior women’s athletic coach leveled allegations of sexual harassment against him in an FIR lodged on Sunday in Chandigarh.
After the Chandigarh Police booked the former India Hockey captain on charges of stalking, illegal confinement, sexual harassment, and criminal intimidation, Singh handed over the portfolio to the Chief Minister on “moral grounds”. He, however, continues to remain a Minister of State (MoS) and hold the other portfolio under his independent charge – ‘Printing and Stationery’.
In her complaint, the woman – who is an international-level athlete who coaches juniors in the state, alleged that Sandeep had first seen her at a gym and then contacted her on Instagram. She stated that he would send her messages on Instagram and Snapchat. “He messaged me on Instagram and said my national games certificate is pending and wanted to meet in this regard. Unfortunately, my certificate has been misplaced by my federation and I have been taking it up with the authorities concerned,” the woman said.
On July 1, 2022, Sandeep allegedly made a Snapchat call and asked her to visit his residence-cum-camp office in Sector 7, Chandigarh, for some official work. The woman agreed to meet and was molested, she alleges.
“He took me to a side cabin of his residence… placed my documents on the side table and placed his hand on my foot. He said when he saw me for the first time, he liked me… He said you keep me happy and I will keep you happy,” the junior women’s coach said, adding, “I removed his hand, he even tore my T-shirt. I was crying and I raised an alarm for help and though all his staff was there, no one helped me”.
A spokesperson of the Chandigarh Police said, “In the matter of a complaint made by a woman coach of Haryana against the Haryana Sports Minister, an FIR under sections 354, 354A, 354B, 342, 506 of the IPC has been registered at the Sector 26 police station, Chandigarh.”
The matter is being investigated by an SIT who questioned the woman for around 9 hours. She handed over all the evidence, including some documents and her mobile phone, to the investigating team.
After the questioning, the women’s coach also said that she was reportedly being offered money to withdraw her complaint. “I am receiving phone calls that I can go to any country I want and I would get Rs 1 crore every month”, she said.
Meanwhile, Sandeep Singh has called the allegations baseless and has demanded an independent probe. “An atmosphere has been created to spoil my image. The woman has leveled false allegations. I want a proper investigation, which is also underway”, he said.