Lucknow: Former MP and BJP leader Swami Chinmayanand was arrested from his ashram in Uttar Pradesh's Shahjahanpur and sent to 14-day judicial custody on Friday. The arrest came after a law student, who had accused the politician of sexual assault and rape, threatened to set herself on fire if the authorities failed to take action against him.
However, the police have substantially toned down the rape charges against Chinmayanand -- instead of charging him under Section 376 of the Indian Penal Code (which carries rigorous imprisonment of either description for a term not less than seven years, but which may extend to imprisonment for life), he has been charged under 376C (intercourse by person in authority) of the IPC, which is punishable by seven years.
Chinmayanand, a former minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, has also been charged with stalking, criminal intimidation, and wrongful confinement on the basis of video clips the law student handed over to the Special Investigation Team (SIT). Addressing a press conference after his arrest, SIT Chief Navin Arora said that Chinmayanand has been booked under Sections 376, 354D (stalking), 342 (punishment for wrongful confinement) and 506 (punishment for criminal intimidation) of the IPC and has been sent to jail. "The phone call records of Swami Chinmayanand and the girl show both of them spoke to each more than 200 times during all these years. Chinmayanand has accepted that he used to get massages from the girl and also used to talk dirty with her. He said he was ashamed of what he had done," Arora said. "After Chinmayanand accepted his fault, investigation was done smoothly and today after arresting him, he was sent to 14-day judicial custody. In the case of extortion as per allegations of Swami Chinmayanand, three people, including Sanjay, Vikram and one more, have been arrested. They have been sent to jail after being booked under several sections of the IPC," said Arora. The law student is one of the accused named in the extortion case filed by Chinmayanand. Of the three named, two are reportedly her cousins while another is her friend.
The complainant, who is a postgraduate student at one of the colleges run by Chinmayanand's organisation, has alleged that she was raped and "physically exploited" for a year by the former Union minister. The woman alleged that the former MP recorded videos of her while she was in the bath and used them to blackmail and rape her. He also shot a video of the act, she claimed. The case is being investigated by the SIT set up by Uttar Pradesh police on the directions of the Supreme Court. Chinmayanand, who was admitted to the medical college in Shahjahanpur on Wednesday, was referred to King George's Medical University (KGMU) in Lucknow. But he chose to return to his residence on Thursday and get ayurvedic treatment there, according to his counsel Om Singh. He underwent several tests at the Shahjahanpur hospital where a team of four doctors monitored his condition, a spokesperson told PTI.
The student had earlier threatened self-immolation if the police did not arrest him. Inspector General Naveen Arora, who heads the SIT, said a mobile phone and a pen drive given by the student have been sent for forensic examination. The pen drive contains 43 video clips which the student says support her allegations. The woman's father had handed over 43 video clips to the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the case. He has also demanded that Section 376, along with the provisions for destroying evidence, be evoked against the former MP as some of the evidence has been removed from the hostel room of his daughter at the BJP leader's behest.