Indian physio Ashai accused of sexually harassing masseuse

Belfast, July 17 (IANS) Indian physio Aijaz Bashir Ashai, who works with the Nepalese cricket team, has been accused of sexually assaulting a female masseuse in a Northern Ireland hotel where he and his team members were staying.

The incident took place on Tuesday at the La Mon Hotel here. Ashai had to appear in handcuffs at Ards Magistrates Court on Wednesday after spending a night in custody, the Belfast Telegraph reported.

The 42-year-old was with the Nepalese team, which is competing in the World Twenty20 Qualifier in Northern Ireland with Ireland and Scotland.

According to the report, a constable told the court that the physio wanted a full body massage and despite having asked to don his underwear, he attended without them. Ashai told her he was suffering in the buttock and groin area and grabbed the masseuse’s hands and forced them in between his legs while in a state of arousal. Ashai, who hails from Mumbai, later apologised to the masseuse and offered her a tip of 10 pounds which she refused.

Ashai’s lawyer, however, said he did go in for the massage but denied having forced himself on the masseuse.

The president and assistant manager of the Nepalese team attended the court proceedings, as did the event’s liaison manager Christopher Elliot.

The lawyer also said the Nepalese team were prepared to arrange and pay for another hotel accommodation until the case was done and dusted with.

With a view to a bail address, he said a room had been booked in another hotel where Ashai’s belongings could be transferred. But Deputy District Judge Joe Rice said she did not want Ashai to be in a hotel which had leisure facilities for the risk of further committing another offence.

The lawyer has reportedly agreed to a bail address in Newtownards which is walking distance to the police station and the court. Rice gave Ashai bail for 2,500 pounds on the condition the Nepal team lodge a cash surety that he reside at the new hotel, report to the police thrice a week, give his passport and make no contact with the witnesses.

The court was adjourned to August 12.

Ashai is also the head physio of the Indian rugby team and West Zone Deodar Trophy cricket team. He is the Head of Department, Advanced Physiotherapy in Ortho, Neuro and Sports Rehabilitation in Saifee Hospital, Mumbai. Ashai also runs his own fitness and sports rehabilitation centre.

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