Swami Chinmayanand Arrested: A 23-year-old student at a law college has alleged that BJP leader and former Union Minister Chinmayanand sexually exploited her for a year after helping her with admission into his college Highlights

  1. BJP leader Chinmayanand is accused of rape by a law student
  2. Chinmayanand has been sent to jail for 14 days
  3. He was a minister in former Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government

BJP’s Chinmayanand, accused of rape by a law student in Uttar Pradesh, 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. A rape charge could mean a seven-year jail term that can extend to life term. He has also been charged with stalking, criminal intimidation and wrongful confinement.

Chinmayanand, 73, is not the only one arrested; three men known to the woman were also arrested in an extortion case filed by Chinmayanand’s team. The woman has not been charged but the police claim she is involved in the case. The woman told NDTV: “I already told the (police) in details how I was raped and yet section 376 (rape) has not been pressed against Chinmayanand. This has played out exactly as I feared. I do not know what the planning is behind Chinmayanand’s arrest. I have nothing to with the extortion case.”

The police based their charges against Chinmayanand on videos handed over by the 23-year-old woman, who claims she secretly filmed him 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 was taken in a senior police officer’s car to a hospital in Shahjahanpur. 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, hadn’t been 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.

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 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 the SIT said there would be no arrest without “solid evidence”.

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 often brought to his room at gunpoint and was even forced to give Chinmayanand massages.

The case surfaced when the student 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.

Chinmayanand was a union minister for home in former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government.