Six days after a 23-year-old law student in Uttar Pradesh's Shahjahanpur town went missing after posting a video on Facebook, the Supreme Court has said it will hear the case on Friday.
The top court is taking up the case on its own after lawyers in a letter urged the Chief Justice to take suo moto cognizance of the entire incident, asking that it should not turn into the another "Unnao case", where a powerful BJP MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar - expelled only recently from the party - is accused of raping a minor girl from his village in 2017 and conspiring to murder her in a recent car crash.
A bench of Justices R Banumathi and AS Bopanna will take up the case. On Saturday, a video went viral on social media in which the woman alleged that a senior leader of the Sant community "who has already destroyed the lives of many girls, is now threatening to kill her."
In his complaint to the police, the woman's father has accused former BJP MP and union minister Chinmayanand of sexually harassing his daughter.
Chinmayanand, 72, has a sprawling Ashram in Shahjahanpur and runs five colleges in the town. He also runs Ashrams in Hardwar and Rishikesh; his empire is believed to be worth crores though there is no official estimate. Posters outside his ashram with top BJP leaders including Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, reflects his influence in the party even though he last won an election back in 1999.
On Tuesday evening, the Shahjahanpur police registered a First Information Report or FIR against Chinmayanand. He was booked for kidnapping and criminal intimidation. However, despite the father clearly mentioning sexual harassment in his complaint, the corresponding charge was not included in the FIR by the police.
A full 48 hours after the filing of the FIR, the police have not even questioned Chinmayanand. The cops have also not managed to trace the woman so far, despite claiming as many as three police teams are looking for her.
Chinmayanand continues to remain in Uttarakhand's Haridwar, refusing to answer questions posed by journalists. Unnamed police sources have told news agencies that the woman was last seen in Delhi on Sunday and was in the company of a man who may be involved in the counter case filed by Chinmayanand's side, against unknown people, alleging an extortion attempt to the tune of Rs 5 crore.
But none of this is on record. When confronted by the family of the woman, the cops simply refuse to say anything. "They are saying nothing. The SP City came here on Wednesday night but he left from the door asking us how we are doing. He stayed exactly for one and a half minutes," the father of the woman told NDTV.
The Uttar Pradesh police on Wednesday released posters of the missing girl, according to news agency PTI. The posters identify the woman, which is banned by law in a case involving sexual assault.
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