Her associates—Sudhir Sangvan and Sukhwinder Singh—seen on CCTV footage from the popular shack were rounded up. Goa DGP Jaspal Singh said Sangvan has confessed to the crime and told police that he and Sukhwinder had taken Phogat to Curlies, where he mixed some “obnoxious” substance in her drink and forced her to have it. Phogat, 42, died on August 23.
‘Drug given to Phogat could be MDMA, will try to find source’
“We have arrested the accused to prevent the possibility of destruction of evidence and influencing of witnesses as Phogat’s autopsy report has not mentioned the exact cause of death, which will be ascertained only after chemical examination of the viscera, and histopathological and serological reports, all of which will take a while to obtain,” Singh said.
Goa IGP Omvir Singh Bishnoi said Phogat’s brother Rinku Dhaka had mentioned sexual assault in his police complaint, but the autopsy has not established this.
Ruling out heart attack, as was initially reported, Bishnoi said the accused had given Phogat “synthetic drugs” and that “it seems to be the cause of death”.
“Based on CCTV footage from Curlies Club, it has been noticed that Sangvan and his associate Sukhwinder were partying with the deceased at the club. In the footage, one of the accused was seen giving some substance to her forcefully. When we confronted them with these facts, Sangvan and Sukhwinder confessed that they had intentionally mixed some obnoxious chemical in the liquid and had given it to Phogat to drink,” Bishnoi said.
“They have not revealed what it is (the drug). We will try to find out the source,” he said. It “could be MDMA” based on the description provided by the accused, according to sources.
Recounting what happened after the spiked drink, Bishnoi said: “The victim was not in her senses and the accused tried to balance her. At 4.30am (on Tuesday) when she lost control, the accused took her to the washroom, and they stayed there for two hours. But the accused have not given us any explanation for this.”
Police said Phogat had begun losing control over herself from around 1.30am on Tuesday, and she had used the washroom at least three times. A private hospital at Anjuna in north Goa had declared Phogat dead on arrival Tuesday morning.
Bishnoi said taxi drivers who ferried Phogat from Curlies to her hotel, and thereafter from the hotel to the hospital, will also be summoned.
Referring to blunt force injuries mentioned in Phogat’s post-mortem report, he said, “Those injuries are not serious enough to lead to death. They are minor injuries. When we confronted the accused, they said she might have gotten the abrasion marks when they lifted her in the washroom.”
Bishnoi also said police suspect an “economic interest” behind the murder. “We will investigate all angles and no accused will go scot-free,” he said.
Phogat’s brother Dhaka had demanded a CBI inquiry into her death, alleging that she was murdered with an intention to take over her properties and financial assets, and to finish her political career.
In Haryana, politicians cutting across party lines called for a CBI inquiry. BJP MLA for Hisar Kuldeep Bishnoi said he had requested CM Manohar Lal Khattar to initiate a CBI investigation. Phogat had unsuccessfully contested the 2019 state assembly polls against Bishnoi, then in Congress, from Adampur.
Even former AAP state president Naveen Jaihind and Congress’s Bajrang Garg have demanded a CBI investigation. “It seems a huge conspiracy has been hatched…,” said Garg.
Watch ‘Sonali Phogat was given some obnoxious chemical forcefully by one of the accused’: Goa Police