- A case of kidnapping registered against former BJP MP Chinmayanand
- Case was filed after a 23-year-old law student went missing on Saturday
- The woman does not name anyone in her video posted on social media
A case of kidnapping and criminal intimidation has been registered against former BJP MP Swami Chinmayanand by the Uttar Pradesh police after a 23-year-old law student, who had posted a video on social media alleging exploitation by powerful people in the management of her college, went missing on Saturday. The woman does not name anyone in her video, but her father has filed a missing complaint naming Chinmayanand, who is the president of the college management.
The police have, however, not addressed the allegation of sexual harassment made by the woman's father.
Chinmayanand's lawyer has rubbished the allegations, calling them an attempt to extort the former MP, who was once central minister for Internal Security.
The woman is a student at the Swami Sukhdevanand Post Graduate College in Shahjahanpur, around 200 km from Lucknow. The website names Swami Chinmayanand as the president of the managing committee.
Her father says she lives in a hostel on campus.
The woman's video, begging UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Prime Minister Narendra Modi for help, has been widely circulated over the past three days.
"A big leader of the Sant Samaj who has destroyed the lives of many other girls and also has threatened to kill me... I want to request Yogi ji and Modi ji to help me. He has threatened to kill my family. Only I know how I am living now ....Please help me. The Sanyasi, he keeps the police and the DM (District Magistrate) in his pockets. That's what he keeps saying. But I have all the evidence against him," the woman says in the video posted on her Facebook page on August 24 at 4 pm.
She appears to be sitting in a car while recording the video.
In a written complaint to the police on Sunday, the woman's father named Chinmayanand and said he tried to speak with the former BJP MP after watching his daughter's video, but could not. He said he feared his daughter may have been kidnapped. He also claimed that on watching the video, he realised that his daughter and other girls in the college had been sexually exploited.
"Many fears are emerging in my mind. This has been done by Swami Chinmayanand," the woman's father told reporters in Shahjahanpur.
"I tried to look for her among my relatives too but she is nowhere to be found. These are influential people, it's their government in the state and at the centre too, they can do anything. I expect that Yogi ji and Modi ji will help me," he added.
The local police say they have acted swiftly into the case and there has been no pressure on them.
Separately, the lawyer for Chinmayanand's Shahjahanpur Ashram also filed a police complaint against unknown people on Sunday, just hours after the woman's video went viral. The lawyer alleged that a WhatsApp message delivered to a mobile number (that belongs to Chinmayanand but the complaint doesn't specifically say so) made a Rs 5 crore extortion demand and threatened to damage the Ashram's image. This complaint was turned into an FIR by the district police.
On the allegations of the woman and her father, Chinmayanand's spokesperson Om Singh said it was a ploy to get rich overnight by extorting the Swami.
"I am surprised (at the allegations). The police are investigating. All the allegations are false and have been made to discredit the organisation and Swami's image. The girl is sitting in a car. She is free to sit in a car and make a video, so how can there be a threat to her life," Om Singh questioned. "She could have used the same car to go to a police station."
Last year, the UP government had tried to withdraw a 2011 rape case against Chinmayanand, but its petition was rejected by a court in Shahjahanpur.
The case was filed by a woman who stayed at an ashram run by Chinmayanand at Shahjahanpur for several years. In her complaint, the woman had alleged she was held captive, raped and assaulted over several years. The police had filed a charge-sheet in 2012. However, the three-time MP was never arrested.