Haryana Sports Minister Sandeep Singh on Sunday handed over his portfolio to Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar after the Chandigarh Police booked him on charges of sexual harassment based on a complaint by a woman athletics coach, ANI reported.
Singh, the Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Pehowa in Kurukshetra, was the former Indian hockey team captain. On Saturday, the police also booked for stalking, illegal confinement and criminal intimidation after the woman made the accusations against him during a press conference held at the home of Indian National Lok Dal leader Abhay Singh Chautala last week.
Singh, however, on Sunday dismissed the allegations saying they are baseless.
“There is an attempt to spoil my image,” Singh said on Sunday. “I hope there will be a thorough investigation into the false allegations levelled against me. I hand over the responsibility of the Sports Department to the chief minister until the report of the investigation comes out.”
The complainant, who is an international-level athlete, alleged that Singh sexually harassed her between February and November when she visited his official residence in Chandigarh, reported the Hindustan Times.
The complainant alleged that Singh first saw her at a gym after which he contacted her on Instagram, reported PTI. “He messaged me on Instagram and said my national games certificate is pending and wanted to meet in this regard,” she said.
The coach said that she agreed to meet Singh since her certificate had been misplaced by the National Sports Federation and she was pursuing the matter with the authorities. However, she alleged that she was molested when she went to meet the BJP MLA at his residence.
“He [Singh] took me to a side cabin of his residence... placed my documents on the side table and placed his hand on my foot,” the complainant said, reported the news agency. “He 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 coach alleged that she had raised an alarm for help at the time of the incident and even though all his staff was there, no one helped her.
The woman said that Singh mostly communicated with her through social media and sent messages on disappearing mode due to which she does not have a record of their conversations, reported The Indian Express.
“I was forced to give an undertaking that I would fetch medals in an upcoming international event,” the complainant said. “I was told that if I failed, the sports department would transfer me. Recently, I got transferred to my home district Jhajjar, where there is no track.”
The complainant also alleged that there are many others facing such harassment in the state sports department.