Australian IPL player arrested for molesting woman, claims innocence

New Delhi: The highly popular Indian Premier League (IPL) was hit by another controversy when Australian player Luke Pomersbach of the Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) team was arrested Friday for allegedly molesting an American woman in a five-star hotel in the capital and beating up her fiance.

Delhi Police registered a case of molestation against Pomersbach, who later was released on bail by a city court.

The incident comes on a day the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) slapped a five-year ban on actor Shah Rukh Khan, co-owner of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), from entering Mumbai's Wankhede Stadium over his alleged misbehaviour at the ground Wednesday night.

Pomersbach is alleged to have molested the woman at the ITC Maurya Hotel here. Her fiance Sahil Peerzada, who is in his 30s, was beaten up by the player when he tried to stop him, police said.

Pomersbach has protested innocence.

The woman, Zohail Hameed, told IANS that she was being pressed by the IPL team to take back the case and was threatened by some people to backtrack from the case.

Tweeting on the controversy, RCB owner Sidhartha Mallya said: "if Luke is in the wrong, then trust me he will face the necessary sanctions. But what this girl is doing is idiotic."

In another tweet, he said: "The girl who is accusing Luke is saying he hit her 'fiance'...what a load of f****** s***. She was all over me last night and asked for me bbm pin, so if he was her fiance she wasn't exactly behaving like a future wife."

Giving details of the incident, the woman, Zohail Hameed, told a television channel that the incident happened when Pomersbach, along with some others, joined them for a drink. She also alleged that the hotel staff did not cooperate with her in calling the police.

Hameed told IANS that Luke forcibly entered her room and tried to molest her.

"He gave me a nasty look and it seemed that he will rape me. I got scared, and I ran out of the door. I went straight to the elevator and asked for the security cops who said 'It's going to be fine. My fiance was beaten profusely and there was blood all over the place, and I was running back and forth to help him," said Hameed.

"The whole IPl team came here in the morning and they have been telling me to drop the case. I need the Indian government to help me," Hameed told IANS.

"I was under pressure and threatened by 5-6 men to backtrack from the case," she said.

The IPl management, which just a day earlier was fielding questions on the fracas between Shah Rukh Khan and security personnel and officials at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, said it was not responsible for the behaviour of individual players.

IPl chairman Rajiv Shukla said: "We are not responsible for behaviour of individuals in hotels … what somebody was doing in some hotel we have nothing to do with it. IPl is not hosting any party.. we have done way with such parties and there was no official party."

RCB owner Vijay Mallya said he regretted the incident. "RCB will give full cooperation to authorities for fair investigation and so that the case if disposed of in accordance with law. He (Pomersbach) won't be taking the field till the matter is sorted out."

After arresting him, police took Pomersbach to Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital for a medical check up and produced him in the Patiala House court.

Metropolitan magistrate Navita Kumari Bagha granted interim bail to Pomersbach till Saturday on a personnel bond of Rs.20,000.

The court has asked Delhi Police to submit visuals of CCTV cameras installed inside the hotel along with the medical report of the victim's fiance and Pomersbach.

Peerzada was admitted to Primus Hospital in the diplomatic area of the national capital where doctors said his condition was stable but he may suffer from hearing loss in his left ear due to bleeding.

"His CT scan was normal… the current condition of the patient is stable but he is complaining of loss of hearing in the left ear and it will take some time to find out what the reason is," Primus executive director D.K. Baluja said.

Another doctor, Deep Makkar, said that Peerzada had head injuries and "blood coming out of his ears".

Pomersbach, a left-handed batsman, has been playing since the first edition of the IPL. He started with Mumbai Indians and later moved to Kings XI Punjab and then to RCB. He hasn't made much of a mark and is yet to play a match in IPl-V. (IANS)