BJP’s Chinmayanand, Accused Of Rape, Arrested, Sent To Jail For 14 Days
BJP’s Chinmayanand, accused of rape by a law student, was arrested on Friday, five days after the woman detailed what she said was a year of sexual assault and blackmail before a court and close to a month after the allegations first surfaced.He was produced in court and sent to jail for 14 days.
The politician has been charged not with rape but the milder “misusing authority for sexual intercourse” or “sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape”, according to his lawyer. The police have not confirmed this charge, which carries a punishment of up to five years in jail and a fine. He has also been charged with stalking, criminal intimidation and wrongful confinement.
Before his arrest from his Mumuksha Ashram, Chinmayanand, 73, was taken in a senior police officer’s car to a hospital in Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh. He had been hospitalised yesterday after he complained of “uneasiness and weakness”. According to his lawyer, he was arrested around 8:50 am.
“He was arrested from his house… Swami-jiis a calm sort of person, there was no hungama (chaos),” said Chinmayanand’s lawyer Pooja Singh
The police has also arrested three men in a case of extortion that was filed by Chinmayanands lawyer. These men, police sources say, were seen with the law student in viral social media videos reportedly from the time she was missing.
The powerful politician, who runs several ashrams and educational institutions, wasn’t charged with rape for almost a month, with the woman and her family trying to file a rape complaint but the UP police refusing to do so. The only charges the police did file was that of kidnapping and intimidation, which the woman’s family had alleged after she went missing.
He was finally arrested a day after UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, at a press conference on his government’s half-way mark, claimed that women’s safety was a priority for him and crime had dropped since he came to power at the head of a BJP government.
The 23-year-old woman, a student at a law college that Chinmayanand runs, on Monday went to a court protected by over 50 police personnel and recorded her statement in the court of the chief judicial magistrate.
But a Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) refused to file rape charges or arrest him. “There will be no arrest unless there is solid evidence. We will not be pressured by media trial,” a senior officer said at a press conference on Wednesday.
The woman has alleged that Chinmayanand sexually exploited her for a year after helping her with admission into his college. He allegedly filmed her taking a bath and blackmailed her with the video and raped her. The woman says she was raped repeatedly by the politician, who runs several ashrams and institutions. She was allegedly brought to his room at gunpoint and was even forced to give Chinmayanand massages.
The woman says she decided to gather evidence against him and filmed him with a camera in her spectacles. The case surfaced when she went missing on August 24 after putting up a Facebook post without naming Chinmayanand. When the UP police tracked her down after a week, the Supreme Court heard her allegations and ordered an SIT to inquire into them. The team questioned the woman, visited her hostel room and later questioned Chinmayanand for seven hours last week.
Chinmayanand was a union minister for home in former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government.