Saturday, 27 August 2022 | PTI | Panaji
Haryana BJP leader Sonali Phogat was fed some “obnoxious chemical” through her drinks by her two aides during a party at a North Goa restaurant which apparently caused her death, police said on Friday.
The two accused, Sudhir Sagwan and Sukhwinder Singh, have been arrested and charged with murder. The motive behind the murder of the 42-year-old politician 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.”
Sagwan and Singh were her associates and had arrived in Goa with the BJP leader on August 22.
Phogat, who first found fame on TikTok, a popular short-form video hosting service now banned in India, 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. Inspector General of Police (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 Sagwan was forcefully making Phogat drink the alleged liquid in a water bottle.
The incident took place at ‘Curlies’ restaurant at Anjuna in North Goa district on the intervening night of August 22 and 23, Bishnoi said.
Sagwan and Singh confessed during questioning that they had intentionally mixed the substance in her drinks, the IPS officer 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.
“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,” the IGP 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 her 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 said.
Police will also record the statement of taxi drivers who ferried her from ‘Curlies’ restaurant to the hotel where she was staying and later to the hospital, Bishnoi said. More people were supposed to join Phogat and others from Mumbai, the police official said.