Belfast Telegraph

Indian cricket physio Bashir Ashai accused of molesting masseuse at La Mon Hotel

By Michael Kenwood

A top Indian cricket physio has been accused of sexually assaulting a masseuse in a Northern Ireland hotel where his team were staying.

Doctor Aijaz Bashir Ashai (42) appeared in handcuffs at Ards Magistrates Court yesterday after spending a night in custody, where he was charged with touching a female masseuse in a sexual manner without her consent.

The incident is alleged to have occurred in La Mon Hotel and Country House on Tuesday this week.

The Nepalese national cricket team, for whom Ashai is currently working, is staying at the hotel while they compete in the qualifying stages of the Twenty20 World Cup which are being held at Stormont.

A constable told the court the masseuse alleged that Dr Ashai, of Thakur Village, East Mumbai, India, had asked for a full body massage, and despite having been instructed to wear underpants, he attended without them.

He told her he was suffering in the groin and buttock area, the constable continued, and grabbed her hands and forced them between his legs, while in a state of arousal.

The court heard it was alleged he later apologised to the masseuse, in front of a hotel manager, noting she was in distress, and offered a £10 tip, which was refused.

Dr Ashai's lawyer said he admitted that he attended the massage, but denied that he grabbed the masseuse's hands, or that he was aroused during treatment.

The lawyer said Dr Ashai had planned to travel to Dublin today with the team for their remaining group qualifying matches, and then on to Scotland.

The president and assistant manager of the Nepalese team attended court, as well as event liaison manager Christopher Elliot.

He told the court the Nepalese national team were prepared to offer a surety and pay for hotel accommodation for Dr Ashai until the case was dealt with.

With a view to a bail address, he said a room had been booked in the Ramada Hotel, Shaw's Bridge, where Dr Ashai's belongings could be transferred. Deputy District Judge Joe Rice said he was unhappy with Dr Ashai staying at a hotel which had leisure facilities, for the risk of further offending.

The accused's lawyer then agreed to a bail address at the Strangford Arms Hotel in Newtownards, within walking distance to the court and the police station. Judge Rice gave Dr Ashai bail for £2,500, on the condition the Nepal team lodge a cash surety for £2,500, that he reside at the Strangford Arms, make no contact with witnesses, report to police three times a week and give up his passport. The matter was adjourned to August 12.

Dr Ashai is one of the best-known sports physiotherapists in India who has worked with a number of the country's top cricketing stars.

His website describes him as "an expert in the field of advanced physiotherapy. He is also a physical trainer, a personal instructor, writer and sportsman."

It continues: "He is a renowned sports physiotherapist who is currently the head physio for the Indian rugby team and the West Zone Deodar Trophy cricket team. Dr Ashai is the Head of Department, Advanced Physiotherapy in Ortho, Neuro and Sports Rehabilitation in Saifee Hospital, Mumbai. Dr Ashai also runs his own fitness and sports rehabilitation centre."

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