BJP’s Chinmayanand, accused of rape by a law student, was arrested on Friday, five days after the woman 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. He was sent to jail for 14 days.
The 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 up to five years in jail and a fine. He has also been charged with stalking, criminal intimidation and wrongful confinement. Three men were also arrested in an extortion case filed by Chinmayanand’s team.
The police based their charges on videos handed over by the woman, who claims she secretly filmed Chinmayanand using a camera in her spectacles.
“The videos were shown to him and finally the Swami accepted the veracity of the videos. Chinmayanand told us he is ashamed of his actions,” 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, 73, was taken in a senior police officer’s car to a hospital in Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh. 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… Swami-ji 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, wasn’t 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. The only charges the police did file was that of kidnapping and intimidation, which the woman’s family had alleged after she went missing.
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 23-year-old 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 a SIT refused to file rape charges or arrest him. “There will be no arrest unless there is solid evidence. We will not be pressured by media trial,” a senior officer said at a press conference on Wednesday.
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 raped repeatedly by the politician, who runs several ashrams and institutions. She was allegedly brought to his room at gunpoint and was even forced to give Chinmayanand massages.
The woman says she decided to gather evidence against him and filmed him with a camera in her spectacles. The case surfaced when she 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. The team questioned the woman, visited her hostel room and later questioned Chinmayanand for seven hours last week.
Chinmayanand was a union minister for home in former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government.