Haryana female coach who filed FIR against minister Sandeep Singh suspended | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Haryana female coach who filed FIR against minister Sandeep Singh suspended

Aug 16, 2023 04:23 AM IST

The Haryana sports department suspended a woman athletic coach who accused a state minister and ex-captain of the Indian hockey team of sexual misconduct.

The Haryana sports department has suspended the woman junior athletic coach who accused Sandeep Singh, a minister of state in the Haryana government and former captain of the Indian hockey team, of sexual misconduct .

Sandeep Singh (Mohd Zakir/HT PHOTO)
Sandeep Singh (Mohd Zakir/HT PHOTO)

The coach filed a first information report (FIR) in December 2022 in Union Territory (UT) Chandigarh against Singh and has repeated her allegations .

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The suspension order is silent on the reasons, although the coach insists it is because she is refusing to strike a deal and settle the case.

“The services of Ms...,Junior Athletic Coach, (posted in the office of) district sports officer, Panchkula are placed under suspension with immediate effect without prejudice,” Yashendra Singh, director, sports department said in an order dated August 11. Singh was not available for comment when contacted over phone to know what prompted the sports department to take this action over seven months after the woman lodged the FIR against the minister.

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According to the woman , she was handed over suspension order at her residence on Monday evening, despite attending office that day.

“Yes, I have been suspended. Pressure is being mounted on me to hammer out a compromise (to withdraw the case). I have not been intimated the reasons for my suspension. I don’t know why they have taken this step. This is a yet another way for the government to pressurise me, but I am not going to yield,” she said over phone.

During the suspension period, the order says, the junior coach will be entitled to subsistence allowance as admissible under Rule 83 of Haryana Civil Services (general) Rules, 2016 and her post during the suspension period will remain the office of district sports officer, Panchkula where she is posted at present.

The Chandigarh Police booked Sandeep Singh, on December 31, 2022 night on the charge of sexual harassment, based on the woman’s complaint.

The FIR against Singh was registered in Chandigarh where the purported crime took place under Sections 354 (assault or criminal force against woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 354-A (sexual harassment), 354-B (assault or criminal force with intent to disrobe), 342 (wrongful confinement) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.

Singh was divested of the charge of sports and youth affairs portfolio a week after being booked. He, however, continues to hold the charge of printing and stationery department.

The minister has dismissed the accusations as false and Haryana government’s stand has been that investigation was underway and that mere allegation and registration of FIR does not prove that accused is guilty.

After the FIR was lodged, the Chandigarh administration had constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) on January 1 headed by a woman Indian Police Service (IPS) officer. SIT had added Section 509 of the IPC in the FIR, another charge of insulting the modesty of a woman.

Police have recorded complainant’s statements under section 164 Cr P C, examined witnesses from Haryana sports department and officials working at the residence of accused including security personnel and recorded their statements. SIT has questioned the accused for over 20 hours (January 8 and February 11) by posing at least 272 questions, police officials familiar with the matter said.

But the investigation is yet to end.

THE CASE

The complainant stated that prior to her appointment as Junior Athletics Coach in Haryana Sports Department in September 2022, she came in touch with the accused through Instagram and Snapchat.

As per police records, the complainant has said the accused asked her to meet him at his official residence in Chandigarh on March 2, 2022 and July 1, 2022 to verify her job-related documents and sexually molested her. Among her other accusations was that the accused was creating problems in her training at Tau Devi Lal Panchkula and blocking her request for training abroad.

She had also stated that the accused shared a confidential list of those appointed junior coaches with her over Snapchat on 13.5.2022 in order to gain her trust even though the actual appointment letter was issued to complainant and others in September 2022, according to police records.

In his written reply to the police the minister has stated that “security guards/commandos” deployed with him were present when the complainant came to meet him at his office- cum- official residence.

“The allegations are further falsified from the fact that if the accused misbehaved with the complainant on the first date, it is beyond comprehension as to why she would go to the office on the second mentioned date and that too alone....” Singh said in a written reply to the police.

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