Haryana Minister Sandeep Singh, who has been booked in a sexual harassment case, on Sunday gave up his sports portfolio, saying he has taken this step on moral grounds. The development comes a day after the case was registered against him by the Chandigarh Police on a complaint of a woman junior athletics coach from the state.
Thirty-six-year-old Singh, a former Indian hockey team captain, has also been charged with wrongful confinement. On Saturday, Haryana Director General of Police had set up a committee after the minister lodged a complaint against the coach, claiming she had tarnished his image.
Till the committee gives its report, Singh said, he, on moral grounds, was handing over his sports portfolio to the chief minister. The minister, who had called for an independent probe into the matter, again dismissed as baseless the accusations levelled by the coach.
Singh was known as a penalty corner specialist, which earned him the moniker, "Flicker Singh". The film Soorma was also made on Singh's life, and was released in 2018, featuring Diljit Dosanjh.
The development came a day after Chandigarh police registered an FIR against the 36-year-old BJP leader on charges of sexual harassment and wrongful confinement on a complaint of a woman junior athletics coach from the state. Singh, however, has dismissed the accusations as baseless and called for an independent probe.
A former Olympian and first-time MLA from Pehowa in Kurukshetra, Singh also holds the Printing and Stationery Department. He, however, has not resigned from the Cabinet. On Saturday, the Haryana Director General of Police set up a committee after the minister lodged a complaint against the coach, claiming she had tarnished his image. Till the committee gives its report, Singh said, he is handing over his Sports portfolio to the chief minister on moral grounds.
He reiterated that the allegations levelled against him by the woman coach are baseless.
"In the matter of complaint made by a lady coach of Haryana against Sports Minister Haryana, a case FIR dated 31.12.2022... has been registered at police station Sector 26, Chandigarh and is being investigated," a Chandigarh police spokesperson said. Singh has been booked under sections 354 (assault or use of criminal force against a woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354 A (sexual harassment), 354 B (compelling her to be naked), 342 (wrongful confinement) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the spokesperson said.
The junior athletics coach levelled the sexual harassment allegations against Singh on Thursday and filed a police complaint a day later. After receiving a complaint from the woman coach, Chandigarh police had earlier said an inquiry will be conducted into the allegations against the minister "I have given a complaint to SSP madam (Senior Superintendent of Police) here. I am hopeful that I will get justice and the Chandigarh Police will investigate my complaint," the woman told reporters on Friday.
She has alleged that Singh contacted her on Instagram after seeing her at a gym and kept insisting that they meet. "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 concerned authorities," the woman said. According to the complaint, the woman agreed to meet Singh at his residence-cum-camp office here with some other documents she had. When she went there, the minister molested her, she claimed.
"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 then 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 woman alleged. "I removed his hand and he even tore my T-shirt. I was crying and I raised an alarm and though all his staff was there, no one helped me," she alleged.
Former Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda had earlier demanded an impartial inquiry into the allegations, while the Indian National Lok Dal asked the Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar-led government to immediately sack Singh and set up a Special Investigation Team to probe the matter.
(with inputs from PTI)