Police in Uttar Pradesh filed a case against former Bharatiya Janata Party MP Chinmayanand on Tuesday after a law student went missing soon after posting a video on social media to allege harassment by influential people, PTI reported. Though she had not named anyone in the video, a missing person complaint filed by her father had named Chinmayanand, who is the president of the college administration.

The woman, a student at a law college in Shahjahanpur, had posted the video asking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Adityanath for help. “A big leader of the saint society, who has destroyed the lives of several girls, has been threatening me with life,” the woman said in the viral clip, according to News18. “I have all evidence against him. He has even threatened to kill my family. Only I know what I have been going through. Modi ji please help me, he is a sanyasi and is threatening that the police, DM [district magistrate] and everyone else is on his side and no one can harm him. I request you all for justice.”

The video was posted on the woman’s Facebook page around Saturday evening, the same day she went missing. The 72-year-old leader was booked under Sections 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code, Shahjahanpur Superintendent of Police S Chanappa said.

“Many fears are emerging in my mind. This has been done by Swami Chinmayanand,” NDTV quoted the woman’s father as saying. “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.” He also said that he expected Adityanath and Modi to help him.

The student’s father accused the BJP leader of harassing her, but Chinmayanand’s lawyer refuted the allegations, saying that it was an attempt to extort him. A counter-complaint was lodged by the lawyer for the BJP leader’s Shahjahanpur Ashram on Sunday after the video went viral.

The lawyer also claimed that a WhatsApp message to Chinmayanand had made a demand for Rs 5 crore and threatened to tarnish the ashram’s reputation. “I am surprised [at the allegations]. The police are investigating,” NDTV quoted Chinmayanand’s spokesperson Om Singh as saying. “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.”

The lawyer alleged that the police asked him not to publicise the threat as it would hamper the investigation. “The police took cognisance of it [the threat], and started its job,” PTI quoted the lawyer as saying. “I was of the view that media should be made aware of this issue, but the police told me not to do so, as the matter seemed to be big and there was a possibility of it being a racket. [The police said] if you go public with it, then the racketeers may become alert, and it will be rather difficult to arrest them.”

Singh also said that the woman could have used the car she was in when she was making the video to go to the police station.

Last year, the Uttar Pradesh government had decided to withdraw a rape case against Chinmayanand that was later rejected by a Shahjahanpur court. The complaint was filed by a woman who stayed at his ashram for many years. She had allegedly been held captive, raped and assaulted for several years. The police had filed a chargesheet in 2012, but Chinmayanand was not arrested.

The BJP leader is a three-time Lok Sabha MP and was also a minister of state in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s administration.

Now, follow and debate the day’s most significant stories on Scroll Exchange.