Panaji/Hisar: In a new twist to the Sonali Phogat death case, the Police on Friday said two male associates of the Haryana BJP leader allegedly mixed some “obnoxious substance” in water and forced her to drink it while partying in a Goa restaurant, adding they have been charged with murder.
The two accused, Sudhir Sagwan and Sukhwinder Singh, have been arrested even as the Goa police said the “obnoxious substance” spiked in the drinking water during the party at Curlies restaurant apparently caused the death of the popular 42-year-old TikTok star on August 23.
The motive behind the alleged murder of Phogat could be “economic interest”, said a senior police official, adding the duo was arrested to “avoid the possibility of destruction of evidence and influencing the witnesses.” Phogat, Sagwan and Singh had arrived in Goa on August 22.
The last rites of Phogat were held in Hisar with a large number of people turning up to pay their last respects.
Phogat’s teenage daughter Yashodhara lit the funeral pyre as she along with her other family members bade her a tearful adieu at a cremation ground in Rishi Nagar.
Shortly before her last rites, Phogat’s brother Rinku Dhaka reiterated that her death was not because of natural causes and an in depth probe was needed to bring out the truth.
Phogat was brought dead to St Anthony Hospital at Anjuna in North Goa district on August 23 morning from her hotel. Doctors had then said prima facie it appears she died of a heart attack.
Goa IGP Omvir Singh Bishnoi said both the accused have been arrested by the Anjuna police under whose jurisdiction the crime took place.
He said the CCTV footage of the restaurant was examined by the investigating officer and it was found that Sagwan was forcefully making Phogat drink “obnoxious chemical” mixed with water from a water bottle. A Goa police press statement later said “obnoxious substance” was mixed with drinking water.
The incident took place at Curlies restaurant in Anjuna on the intervening night of August 22 and 23, Bishnoi told reporters in Panaji.
Sagwan and Singh confessed during questioning that they had intentionally mixed the “obnoxious chemical” in water, he said.
The motive behind killing her could be some “economic interest,” the IGP said.
The two men were seen taking Phogat to the washroom of the restaurant around 4.30 am on August 23 and the three of them were inside the toilet for two hours, he said.
Custodial interrogation will throw light on what happened during those two hours, Bishnoi added.
CCTV footage showed Phogat staggering out of the restaurant while being unable to walk on her own and was seen helped by one of her associates.
The Goa police press note said Sangwan had confessed to the crime stating that after reaching Goa he along with Singh took Phogat to Curlies restaurant on the pretext of partying.
At the restaurant, Sangwan allegedly mixed some “obnoxious substance” in drinking water and forced Phogat to drink it. After drinking the water, Phogat felt uneasy and sick in the restaurant, it added.
Phogat’s brother Rinku had alleged in a complaint that she was murdered by her personal assistant Sangwan along with Singh with the intention to take over her properties and financial assets and finish her political career, the press note said.
“Since post-mortem report has not mentioned the exact cause of death and would be available only after chemical examination of viscera (large internal organs in the body), histopathological and serological reports which would take a while, to avoid the possibility of destruction of evidence and influencing the witnesses, both the accused are arrested,” IGP Bishnoi said.
Two other women were also with the accused at the party and were seen cutting a cake, he said, adding both were being questioned.
Asked about the “multiple blunt force injuries” on Phogat’s body mentioned in the post-mortem report, Bishnoi said as per the accused these could have been caused by abrasion while she was being taken to the hospital.
When she was taken to the hospital, there were no visible injuries, hence doctors suspected that she died due to a heart attack, the IGP said.
But Phogat seemed to have actually died due to the substance she was fed at the restaurant, he added.
Police will also record the statement of taxi drivers who ferried Phogat from Curlies restaurant to the hotel where she was staying and later to the hospital, Bishnoi said, adding more people were supposed to join her and others from Mumbai.