Sardar Singh

An article from a New Delhi newspaper published on fieldhockey.com on 7th July 2017 which I found incredible.

New Delhi: Hockey India (HI) has lodged an official complaint to International Hockey Federation (FIH) about the ill-timing of former captain Sardar Singh’s interrogation by Yorkshire police during the Hockey World League in London in relation to a year-old sexual assault case filed by an England international hockey player of Indian-origin.

In the letter sent to International Hockey Federation (FIH) CEO Jason McCracken on Wednesday, HI president Mariamma Koshy referred to a 19 June incident where acting on a complaint filed by an England junior-level hockey player on 17 June relating to a year-old sexual assault case, Sardar was summoned to Leeds for questioning.

As it was on the eve of India’s high-voltage Pool 8 match against arch-rivals Pakistan, which India won 7-1, the hearing was postponed to 20 June.

“I am writing to formally make a complaint before FIH of the recent incident that happened during Hero Hockey World League Semi Finals that took place in London in June 2017, the incident being referred to by Hockey India related to a frivolous complaintfiled by a lady in June 2017 in Leeds for incidents which took place in 2013,”  the letter addressed t0 McCracken read.

“We request that complaint is shared/forwarded with/to relevant concerned in FIH for proper enquiry and request that our complaint also be shared with the Executive Board of FIH,” the letter further read.

Enclosed were incident reports from team manager Jugraj Singh and Sardar.

In Jugraj’s version, he said that Sardar was impacted heavily by the questioning and that after the incident India lost three back-to-back matches.

‘The effect of the same can be very well seen on Sardar Singh by sitting in cramped position for 11 hours both ways in a car and 4 hours ofsitting on a chair for questioning. We had to make Sardar not play in match against Holland for almost 70 percent of the time due to stiffness of body. It may be noted here that Sardar Singh is the main playmaker of the Indian team,”Jugraj said.

‘The incident affected the morale of the Indian team and the team lost focus & purpose and the performance of the team can be seen in matches which happened after the incident of Sardar Singh. The team lost against Holland the next day and also lost against Malaysia & Canada (both lower ranked than India) and before the incident, Indian team had won all 3 pool matches,” he added.

This was the second time Sardar has been questioned by the police in the middle of a tournament regarding the same case.

During the Hockey World League Semifinal in Antwerp in June 2015, the complainant accused Sardar of physically assaulting her.

Sardar, in his defence, cited ten alleged complaints filed by the complainant, a resident of Leeds. In those listed accusations, most were closed due to lack of evidence, Sardar wrote.

“I want to play for my country peacefully and I am being harassed by this lady,” Sardar wrote.

Why do the Hockey India think that the International Hockey Federation are the correct body to write to in relation to inquiry actions taken by Yorkshire Police? There is clearly a lack of understanding within Hockey India of the structure and authority of both Yorkshire Police and the FIH. There is no reason to suppose that the FIH have any influence with Yorkshire Police.

Do Hockey India believe that Yorkshire Police should have sent officers to India to interview Sardar Singh or that they should have just ignored the opportunity to speak with him that his presence in the UK afforded them?

If Yorkshire Police had any awareness at all about the timetable of the tournament they might have requested Sardar’s attendance in Leeds after the conclusion of the Indian Team’s involvement in it. Did Sardar notify the police that he was returning to the UK and would be available for interview after that date? Hell, no – well I doubt that he did. Perhaps he did not know that the police wanted to interview him about this matter??? Did the police insist that the interview had to take place on 20th June rather than a few days later?

Why is an allegation of sexual assault seen as frivolous by Hockey India and trivia like the results of games in a hockey tournament presented as important in comparison? It is clear that neither the Yorkshire Police nor the victim of the alleged assault regard the incident as a frivolous matter – and nor should anyone else.

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