London: On Monday, the Indian hockey team woke up on a disturbing note. A day before, ahead of the game against Pakistan, former captain Sardar Singh had been issued summons by a police station in Leeds. Expressing his dismay, the FIH president Narinder Batra put a post on Facebook in his personal capacity, questioning the timing of the summons.
“England is a country which is a safe heaven for all fraudsters who have run away from India and agree to invest in England. I would love to see the reaction of England and world media if in India the England players are called to police stations. Request the Indian media to get the Ministry of External Affairs and Indian High Commission in UK involved, wrote Batra in the now deleted Facebook post.
Meanwhile, Sardar was on his way to Leeds, accompanied by team’s assistant coach Jugraj Singh. And as things stood on Monday night, Sardar was back and coach Roelant Oltmans confirmed to The Field that the former captain “can leave the country” after the conclusion of Hockey World League (HWL) Semifinals.
Same complaint as 2016
The questioning on Monday followed a complaint filed by a British-Indian hockey player in India last year, where she claimed to be Sardar’s fiancée and accused him of refusing to marry her and torturing mentally and physically. The complainant also dragged Sardar to court in India but he denied all the allegations, including that of forcing her to abort.
“I think everybody knows what happened a year and a half ago when the girl filed a complaint against Sardar. She has done more or less the same here. It’s not a fresh complaint. I understand it’s from 2013 or something like that. The police had asked Sardar to come over to Leeds to give his explanation, and he has done that,” Oltmans said.
“He has given the answers [to police]. He was accompanied by a local lawyer from here. I can’t imagine there is anything else. He is free to leave the country [after the tournament], as things stand at this moment,” the coach confirmed.
It was probably because of the same threat that Sardar missed the Champions Trophy held here last year. The team management and Sardar took that risk this time, and trouble became imminent when the complainant suddenly showed up at the team hotel in Stratford.
“I am not too much surprised, because I had seen the girl earlier this week in this hotel. She suddenly arrived here. I think she has to accept that their relationship is over. I think she is destroying her own life than his life,” said Oltmans.
Claims of sabotage
Team sources claimed the timing of the summons was nothing less than a sabotage attempt ahead of the big game against Pakistan. While Sardar was told about it beforehand, the other team members weren’t.
“I told him about the summons. His reaction was ‘okay’. We had discussed upfront that there was a chance this could happen. We were aware of that, and he too. So he was quite calm in the situation. The summons were served before the game against Pakistan and Sardar was made aware of it at that moment, but not the team,” the Dutchman added.
India will play their last and toughest pool match on Tuesday, against the Netherlands; and given the circumstances, it might affect the team’s morale and focus.
“I don’t expect that. Everyone in the team knows already about the situation between Sardar and this girl for a long time. It’s nothing new. There’s no new case, no new evidence. All stories are the same that came out in 2016. This girl is all the time trying to destroy Sardar’s life since he broke up with her. That’s what’s happening,” the coach said.
However, while it’s not yet clear, but there are chances that the former India captain may be called for another round of questioning before the tournament ends on June 25.
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