- BJP leader Chinmayanand was questioned by the police on Thursday night
- He was questioned by a Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team
- Two rooms of Chinmayanand's ashram in UP's Shahjahanpur have been sealed
BJP leader Chinmayanand was questioned by the police last night, nearly a fortnight after a young woman and her family went public with allegations that he had blackmailed her and raped her for over a year. The former union minister was questioned for seven hours by a Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the Uttar Pradesh Police, which has fielded questions about its apparent reluctance to file a case against the powerful politician or even question him.
Two rooms of Chinmayanand's ashram in UP's Shahjahanpur, where the alleged assault took place, have been sealed. But the police have yet to file a rape case against the 73-year-old, who runs several ashrams and institutions and was minister of state for home in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government.
Sources say Chinmayanand's questioning started at 6:20 pm on Thursday and went on till 1 am. He was reportedly asked about the allegations of a student at a law college he runs that he filmed her, blackmailed her and sexually assaulted her for a year.
"We are fully cooperating with the investigation, we may have to appear again," said Chinmayanand's lawyer.
The law student has alleged that she was repeatedly raped by Chinmayanand after he facilitated her admission into one of his colleges last year, advised her to move into the hostel and blackmailed her using a video clip of her taking a bath.
The woman alleges she was forced to give him massages and often, brought to him by his aides at gunpoint. She claims she recorded him earlier this year with a camera in her spectacles to use as evidence of the assault.
The case surfaced when the student posted an SOS to UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Facebook, without naming Chinmayanand, and went missing on August 24. Her father, however, named the former BJP MP and said he had sexually exploited her.
The woman was tracked down to Rajasthan a week later. The Supreme Court, which stepped in after lawyers flagged the case, asked the police to produce the woman hours after she was found, and spoke to her in a closed hearing the same day. The court appointed an SIT to investigate her allegations.
The SIT, denying that it had questioned the woman for 15 hours, had said on Thursday that it fully intended to question Chinmayanand. "It's incorrect to say we won't investigate Chinmayanand. We summoned him three days ago to appear for questioning, but we were told there are some health reasons. We hope to interrogate him in the next few days," said sources in the SIT.