Sonali Phogat death: Goa govt to hand over probe to CBI

Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant said Monday that his government had decided to hand over the investigation into the death of Haryana BJP leader and actor Sonali Phogat to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Sawant’s announcement comes about three weeks after Phogat’s death in Goa on August 23 and when the Goa Police was in the process of filing a charge sheet in the case.

Sawant, who holds the home portfolio, said, “People from there (Haryana) have continuously demanded that there should be a CBI investigation in the case of Sonali Phogat. Her daughter had also made this demand. We have full faith in our police and they have been investigating the case very well. They have also found good clues. But keeping people’s and her daughter’s continuous demand in mind, today we are handing the case over to the CBI. I will myself write a letter to the (Union) Home Minister to hand this case over to the CBI.”

The decision to let the CBI take over comes days after a team of the Goa Police returned from Haryana after carrying out an investigation into the allegations made by Phogat’s family against her personal assistant Sudhir Sangvan and Sukhwinder Singh, the two men charged with her murder.

Phogat, who arrived in Goa on August 22 with Sangvan and Singh, had visited the Curlies beach shack in Anjuna the same night. CCTV footage shows the accused making her drink out of a bottle. It was the police’s case that the accused had “forcefully” given Phogat an “obnoxious substance” which was later identified as methamphetamine.

Last week, after the team of officers of the Goa Police returned from Haryana, North Goa SP Shobhit Saksena had said, “The investigation is divided in a logical manner between three different IOs (investigating officers). We are going to collate the information and we are in the process of preparing a charge sheet.”

Asked whether the police had been able to ascertain the motive behind Phogat’s alleged murder, SP Saksena had said that it was under investigation. “We have found some angles that point towards a particular motive. We have covered all angles alleged by the family and we have investigated in all directions,” he had said.

Phogat’s death was first registered as an unnatural death by the Goa Police after it was reported by the St Anthony’s Hospital in Anjuna where she was taken on the morning of August 23. Subsequently, a case of murder was filed based on a complaint filed by her brother Rinku Dhaka accusing Sangvan and Singh of killing her. In Dhaka’s complaint, he had stated that Phogat had learnt that Sangvan was behind a theft of up to Rs 40 lakh in her house last year and was about to report him to the police on her return to Haryana. The family also alleged that Sangvan was after Phogat’s property.

Doctors had reserved the cause of death after a post-mortem was conducted on Phogat’s body on August 25. In the ‘Final/Provisional Cause of Death Certificate’ received by Phogat’s family, doctors from the department of forensic medicine and toxicology at the Goa Medical College stated that the cause of death was reserved “pending chemical analysis, histopathology and serological reports”. It also stated that there are “multiple blunt force injuries over the body” and said that the manner of death was for the investigation officer to ascertain.

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