Bengaluru police have registered an FIR against India hockey player Varun Kumar and booked him under the stringent Pocso (Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences) Act on a complaint by a 22-year-old woman that he had sexually assaulted her many times over the last five years, since when she was a minor.
The complainant has alleged that she was 17 when they first got in touch in 2019 via Instagram while the hockey team was training at the Sports Authority of India’s Bengaluru centre, in the same campus where the victim, selected as a 16-year-old for a SAI volleyball coaching scheme in Jnanabharathi, Bengaluru, was also training.
The case against Kumar, member of the Tokyo Olympics bronze-winning squad, has been registered under the provisions of Section 4 (2), 5 (L), 6 of the Pocso Act and IPC Section 376 (3) for raping a woman under 16 years of age and 420 (cheating).
“He is on the run and a search is on to trace him,” officials in Bengaluru said. They said police were in Jalandhar to apprehend Kumar, who was recently promoted to Deputy Superintendent in Punjab Police. However, PTI quoted a Hockey India official as saying that Kumar is with the India squad in Bhubaneswar preparing for the FIH Pro League to be played from February 10 to 16. “He is not absconding. He is in Bhubaneswar with the team,” the news agency quoted the official as saying.
In her complaint, the victim has alleged that Kumar had sexually exploited her promising marriage.
“One year ago, after the demise of my father, the accused came to pacify me and afterwards stopped calling me, avoiding my calls. When I decided to lodge a police complaint, he again started talking to me,” the complaint read. “When I asked him for marriage, he said both should remain as they are without marriage.” Kumar threatened that if she insisted on marriage, he would post her photos on social media, the complainant alleged.
The woman in her complaint has said Kumar had promised marriage. “The accused maintained that he would make my family agree to our marriage and said until then we will stay as friends.” She alleged that Kumar raped her on a dinner outing in Bengaluru despite her telling him she was a minor. “After believing in promises of marriage for five years I loved him. He had taken me to various hotels across Bengaluru for years and sexually exploited me,” she alleged in the complaint.
Varun Kumar, originally from Himachal Pradesh, shifted to Punjab for hockey. A defender, he made his India debut in 2017. In addition to being a part of the Tokyo Olympics team, he was also a member of the silver-winning squad at the 2022 Birmingham Commonwealth Games and the victorious Hangzhou Asian Games team last year.