Sonali Phogat: Arrests over India politician and former TikTok star murder

Sonali Phogat: Arrests over India politician and former TikTok star murder

Sonali PhogatImage source, ANI

Image caption, Sonali Phogat was a former TikTok star and a politician

Police in India have arrested two men in connection with the murder of politician and former TikTok star Sonali Phogat.

The arrests came on Thursday evening after a post-mortem revealed “multiple blunt force injuries” on her body.

Phogat, 42, was visiting the western state of Goa when she died on 22 August. Initial reports said she had died from a cardiac arrest.

But her family disputed the claim and accused her associates of murder.

Naming two of her personal assistants, her brother alleged that they had been blackmailing her with an explicit video and had raped and murdered her.

He told NDTV news channel that the men had threatened to destroy his sister’s political career and had seized some of her personal belongings, including property records and ATM cards.

The family also told reporters that Phogat had spoken to them shortly before her death and had “sounded disturbed”.

According to reports, Phogat was at a restaurant with her associates when she complained of uneasiness. She was taken to a hospital where she was declared “brought dead”.

The Times of India newspaper quoted a forensic specialist saying that “the injuries on her body were fresh” and “may have been caused by fist blows or due to a fall”.

Hours after the post-mortem report was released, Goa police announced that they had arrested the accused.

Phogat, who is from the northern state of Haryana, was a member of India’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party. She had contested the 2019 state assembly elections as a BJP candidate but had failed to win.

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Along with her political career, Phogat also had a footing in India’s entertainment industry. She was a popular contestant on reality TV show Bigg Boss – the Indian version of the popular American show Big Brother – and a former TikTok star. She had also acted in regional films, TV shows and web series.

In 2020, she was arrested – and later released on bail – for beating up a government official with her shoes. She accused him of making “indecent and derogatory” remarks against her.