New Delhi: Bare hours after India’s famous 7-1 victory over Pakistan in the World Hockey League Semi-Final in London, former India skipper Sardar Singh found himself in the police net when he was called for questioning by Yorkshire Police on Monday.
The police, it is learnt, acted on a complaint from UK-based hockey player Ashpal Kaur Bhogal, who had last year alleged she had been engaged to Sardar and accused him of mental torture and rape.
The news took the hockey world by surprise and evoked a sharp reaction from team management, as India prepare to face the Netherlands on Tuesday. Star midfielder Sardar is part of the 18-member team currently in London for the prestigious tournament.
On the day, Sardar and former India defender Jugraj Singh — an assistant coach and also team manager — travelled to Leeds and appeared before the police, who questioned the player for close to three hours.
Said a team official from London, “We had received a call from the Leeds Police on Sunday when the players were about to leave for the match against Pakistan.
They wanted to call Sardar for questioning in Leeds, which is around 200 km from London.
“We explained them the match situation and asked for some more time. We wanted Sardar to stay focused on the match and hence he was only told about it after the game.”
Chief coach Roelant Oltmans stressed that the development would have no bearing on Tuesday’s game. Said Oltmans from London, “Sardar had to report in Leeds and he is still there. We have been as open as possible to our players. They know what’s going on but tomorrow, the focus will be only on the Netherlands.”
International Hockey Federation (FIH) president Narinder Batra questioned the timing of such a move and condemned it. “Where does one seen a player travelling with a national team on full permission, been summoned by police in the middle of a tournament?” Batra said.