The father of a young woman missing from her college hostel in Uttar Pradesh since Saturday has alleged that he is under pressure to water down his case against former BJP MP Chinmayanand, the man he alleges sexually harassed his daughter and is behind her disappearance.
Three days after the woman, a law student, went missing, the police finally accepted her family's complaint and filed a case on Tuesday evening naming Chinmayanand and listing charges like kidnapping and criminal intimidation.
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.
The case was filed only after a video posted by the woman on Facebook just before she went missing was shown on TV channels along with her father's allegations against the powerful saffron-robed politician, a former union minister who also heads the management of the woman's college.
Since then, the father told NDTV, the police had neither contacted him nor given him any information.
Two senior officers, the Superintendent of Police and the District Magistrate, did meet with him before the case was filed. "I was called by them suddenly on Tuesday evening. They showed me a few clippings saying my girl was in a Delhi hotel. But the images were not clear and I could not make out whether it was my daughter," he said.
"They started taking about the FIR and said you tell us right here what to write. They wanted me to change my complaint. They wanted to water down charges against Chinmayanand."
He alleged that Chinmayanand, who used to be Minister of State for Internal Affairs in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led BJP government, was a powerful enemy and close to the Chief Minister. "There is complete pressure. Even my girl is saying in the video. That the DM and SP are in his pocket. He is Yogi Adityanath's 'khaas aadmi'. Whether she is found dead or alive, the video is her proof. They should find her and record her statement," he said.
Chinmayanand's lawyer has alleged that the woman and her father are trying to damage his reputation. "I want my daughter to be found. What can I do? I am tired. I have been running around for five days," he said.
Yogi Adityanath visited Chinmayanand's Shahjahanpur ashram last year. Later, the UP government tried to withdraw an earlier rape case against Chinmayanand.
Chinmayanand was booked for rape in 2011 and the case even went to the courts in 2012. A woman who lived at his ashram accused him of abusing and sexually assaulting her for years.
In July, a local court rejected permission to the UP government to withdraw the rape case. The woman's estranged husband told NDTV Chinmayanand had secured a stay on the case from the Allahabad high court.