MHA recommends CBI probe in Sonali Phogat's death

Sep 12, 2023, 05:00 pm

The Union Home Ministry on Monday recommended a CBI probe into the death of BJP leader Sonali Phogat, following a request by Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant.

Phogat, 43, was found dead in Goa on August 22-23 night.

The MHA's move came after Sawant wrote to Union Home Minister Amit Shah requesting a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

The home ministry recommended to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to get the case probed by the CBI, an official privy to the development said.

The CBI functions under the administrative control of the DoPT.

Phogat, a BJP leader from Hisar in Haryana, died in Goa in the intervening night of August 22-23 and her death is being treated as a case of murder.

Earlier in the day, Sawant told reporters in Panaji that the Goa Police has done a "tremendously good investigation" in the case and have also got some clues.

"But due to the demand of people from Haryana and also Sonali Phogat's daughter, we have decided to write to the Union Home Ministry to hand over this case to the CBI, Sawant said.

Phogat, a former Tik Tok star and a contestant on the reality TV show "Big Boss", was brought dead to a hospital in North Goa on August 23, a day after arriving in the coastal state with two of her male aides.

Police have so far arrested five people in connection with the case including the associates - Sudhir Sagwan and Sukhwinder Singh.

Police also arrested Dattaprasad Gaonkar, who had allegedly provided drugs to Sagwan and Singh who fed them to her.

Edwin Nunes, the other arrested man, is the owner of the Curlies restaurant in North Goa district where Phogat and her aides had partied on that night.

Rama Mandrekar, a resident of Anjuna in north Goa and alleged drug-peddler, was also arrested by police in the case. He had allegedly supplied the drugs to Gaonkar.

Phogat was administered methamphetamine, and some left-over drug was recovered from the restaurant's washroom, Deputy Superintendent of Police Jivba Dalvi had said.

CCTV footage from the restaurant also emerged on social media. In one video, Phogat can be seen dancing with Sagwan. Sagwan is also purportedly seen forcing her to drink water which she instantly spits out.

Another video shows Phogat being escorted out of the restaurant by the accused. She is seen staggering and almost falling near the staircase on her way out.

Police had said Sagwan and Singh allegedly mixed some "obnoxious substance" in water and forced Phogat to drink it.

The doctors said she had had a heart attack, but her brother alleged that Sagwan and Singh played a role in her death.

The arrests were made and a First Information Report for murder was registered after the autopsy report said there were multiple "blunt force injuries" on her body.

Police had said "economic interest" could be a motive behind her killing.