- BJP leader Chinmayanand is accused of rape by a law student
- Chinmayanand has been sent to jail for 14 days
- He was a minister in former Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government
The BJP's Chinmayanand, accused of rape, was arrested and sent to jail on Friday, days after a law student 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. But the politician's accuser has not been spared either. The woman has been charged with extortion, based on a case filed by Chinmayanand's team.
The 72-year-old politician has been charged not with rape but the watered down "misusing authority for sexual intercourse" or "sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape", which carries a punishment of five to 10 years in jail and a fine. A rape charge would have meant a seven-year jail term extending to a life term. He has also been charged with stalking, criminal intimidation and wrongful confinement.
Three men known to the woman have been arrested in the extortion case. The police say the woman is also involved, but they are looking for more proof to act further against her. The woman told NDTV: "There is no justice. I already told the (police) in details how I was raped and yet he has not been charged with rape. This has played out exactly as I feared. I do not know what the planning is behind Chinmayanand's arrest. I have nothing to with the extortion case."
The police based their charges against Chinmayanand on videos handed over by the 23-year-old woman, who claims she secretly filmed him using a camera in her spectacles.
"He has admitted to almost every allegation against him, including sexual conversations and body massage. The circumstantial evidence in the case also being examined. He said he did not want to say more as he is ashamed of his acts," said Naveen Arora, chief of the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team of the UP police. Denying any delay in action against the influential former BJP MP, Mr Arora said: "For two days the swami was doing the rounds of the hospital. We took all precautions. When we were satisfied we could arrest him and he accepted all proof, we arrested him."
Before his arrest, Chinmayanand was taken in a senior police officer's car to a hospital in Shahjahanpur. He had been hospitalized 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... Swamiji is a calm sort of person, there was no hungama (chaos)," said Chinmayanand's lawyer Pooja Singh.
The powerful politician, who runs several ashrams and educational institutions, hadn't been charged for almost a month, with the woman and her family trying to file a rape complaint but the UP police refusing to do so.
He was arrested a day after UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, at a press conference yesterday 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 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 the SIT said there would be no arrest without "solid evidence".
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 often brought to his room at gunpoint and was forced to give Chinmayanand massages.
The case surfaced when the student 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.
Chinmayanand was a union minister for home in former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government.