- The 23-year-old woman has been found in Rajasthan
- Chinmayanand had been accused by her father of sexually harassing her
- The UP police said the woman was found with a friend
A 23-year-old woman, missing for nearly a week from Uttar Pradesh's Shahjahanpur, has been found in Rajasthan, the police said today, on a day the Supreme Court took up her case. A powerful BJP leader, Chinmayanand, had been accused by the woman's father of sexually harassing her and kidnapping her.
The UP police said the woman had been found with a friend and was being taken home. "In the Shahjahanpur episode the girl has been located by Shahjahanpur police in Rajasthan along with her friend. Necessary legal action is being taken," the police said in a tweet.
The police searched for her in many places across Delhi, UP and Rajasthan and used digital surveillance to track her down, Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police OP Singh told NDTV. "She is hale and hearty. It seems she went out of her own will to various places," he said.
"I'm relieved that she has been located. I would not like to say anything about Swamiji (Chinmayanand) until I hear what my daughter has to say," the woman's father told news agency ANI.
The woman, a law student, went missing on Saturday after posting a video on Facebook alleging that a "big leader of the Sant Samaj" had "destroyed the lives of many other girls and also has threatened to kill me". She requested Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to help her.
The woman's video was widely circulated on social media. Based on her video, her father blamed Chinmayanand, a former union minister who heads the management of the college where the woman studies.
The police filed the family's case only on Tuesday, three days after she went missing, and charged Chinmayanand with kidnapping and criminal intimidation. The former MP, however, was not questioned. His lawyer asserted that the allegations were false and an attempt to extort the politician.
The UP police chief said: "We did conduct raids in the Chinmayanand ashram. Our teams spoke to several people in his ashram. Our first focus was to recover her safely."
Yesterday, the Supreme Court decided to take up the case after lawyers raised concerns that it could 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.
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 Yogi Adityanath, reflects his influence in the party even though he last won an election back in 1999.
Chinmayanand has been 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 team alleging an extortion attempt to the tune of Rs. 5 crore.