Sonali Phogat drugged by manager, associate at Goa’s Curlies beach shack: Police

PANAJI: BJP leader and actor Sonali Phogat was drugged by her manager Sudhir Sangwan and his associate at a restaurant on Goa’s Anjuna beach before returning to her hotel and complaining of uneasiness, a senior Goa police officer said on Friday.

Inspector General of Police Omvir Singh Bishnoi said after investigators confronted Sangwan and his associate Sukhwinder Singh with CCTV footage from Curlies restaurant that they visited on August 22, the two confessed to forcing Sonali Phogat to consume an “obnoxious” substance after which she was visibly unstable.

“We do not know what is the obnoxious chemical that was mixed in the drink that was forcibly given to her but it is a synthetic drug. Until chemical analysis we cannot say for sure,” Bishnoi said.

Sudhir Sangwan and Sukhwinder Singh have been arrested and produced before a judge who remanded them in police custody for two days.

Phogat, who hailed from Hisar in Haryana and found fame on TikTok, was brought dead to the St Anthony Hospital in Anjuna in North Goa district on August 23 morning. The cause was given as a suspected heart attack. On Thursday, a murder case was registered on her brother’ complaint.

Investigators haven’t been able to figure out the motive. Bishnoi said they were still looking.

“At the moment we do not have any evidence whether this was a case of long-running harassment. But behind every crime, there always is likely to be some economic interest and I feel that in this crime too there may be some economic interest,” he said.

The senior police officer clarified that the multiple blunt force injuries listed by forensic experts in the autopsy report were minor bruises, and were not the cause of her death.

“These are not fatal injuries. They are not severe enough to cause the death of a person. They are very minor injuries. And we asked the accused about it and he said that they are abrasion marks when they were trying to lift her up from the toilet,” Bishnoi said.

The police officer said that when they confronted the two suspects with the CCTV footage, “Sudhir Sangwan and Sukhwinder confessed that they had intentionally given the accused some obnoxious chemical after which the victim wasn’t herself and needed to be taken care of. At around 4:30 pm when she could no longer hold it together, the victim was taken to the bathroom,” Bishnoi said.

He added that the police are yet to establish the identity of people who are seen partying in the CCTV footage. “There were many people in the Curlies shack. We have recorded the statement of the taxi driver who spoke about the state she was in when she was taken from Curlies to the hotel”.

Police said they started investigations soon after Sonali Phogat’s death, initially as a case of unnatural death. Based on a complaint filed by her brother Rinku Dhaka that pointed a finger at her sister’s manager, a murder case was registered on Thursday.

Phogat’s family, which was contemplating demanding a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) after Goa police officers initially ruled out foul play in her death, said they were satisfied with the police probe and had taken her body back to Hisar in Haryana to perform the last rites.