Indian athlete Tanveer Hussain, who was given a visa after a huge public outcry, has been arrested in the US on charges of sexually abusing a12-year-old girl, the Snowshoe Federation of India and US media said on Thursday.
The 24-year-old snowshoe racer from Kashmir was arrested in Saranac Lake village in New York state on Wednesday.
He was charged with sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child, Adirondak Daily Enterprise, a daily, said.
“Yes, he has been arrested after allegations of sexual abuse of a minor girl surfaced. We are trying to ascertain what happened,” said Mir Mudasir, president, Snowshoe Federation of India.
Hussain participated in the 2017 world snowshoe championships from February 23 to 25 and were to leave on Thursday.
Hussain, said The Enterprise, told his manager Abid Khan he was innocent.
Hussain and Khan, who were denied visa on January 31, were given the travel permit after the issue was raised in media prompting the village mayor to take up the matter with some US senators.
The two were the toast of the village. Locals offered them free lodging, meals and a crowdfunding campaign raised $1,600 in a week to cover their travel expenses, The Enterprise wrote.
“I spoke to Khan and he told me that Hussain has been provided with an attorney by the state department. The attorney is going to talk to the Indian embassy in the US,” Mudasir said.
He said two Indian families living in the area had come forward for help as Hussain can’t speak English. Khan had left Saranac Lake while Hussain would be arraigned in the nearby Bloomingdale court.
Mudasir refused to comment on the merit of the case. “Personally I am very disturbed by the turn of events… This thing has happened after the event was over. I have full faith in American law and let the law take its own course,” he said, stressing that the federation couldn’t be held responsible for an individual’s act.
The Enterprise quoted Khan as saying that the girl had followed Hussain around in an affectionate way. He called her “a nutcase”.
Khan said Hussain told him the girl tried to make an advance on him, but he turned her down.
To a question if the girl made up the story because Hussain didn’t respond to her, Khan told The Enterprise “may be”.
But, police said they had enough evidence, including witnesses and social media.