Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former Union minister Chinmayanand, who was arrested Friday, has been charged with watered down sexual assault charges but not with rape, reported NDTV. Chinmayanand was accused of rape by a student at a college managed by his trust in Shahjahanpur, Uttar Pradesh. He was sent to judicial custody for 14 days on Friday.
While a rape charge carries a term of seven years extending to life, Section 376-C of the Indian Penal Code – sexual intercourse by a person in authority – comes with a punishment of five to 10 years. He has also been charged with stalking, wrongful confinement, and criminal intimidation.
Meanwhile, the complainant is being investigated for extortion. The woman has not been charged in the extortion case, but police officials claimed that she was also involved. Three people have been arrested in the case, which was filed by Chinmayanand’s lawyer. The investigators are also looking into the process of admission at the college the woman had studied at.
The complainant and her brother expressed their dissatisfaction at the charges against him and said that the extortion case was lodged to weaken their case against Chinmayanand. “Chinmayanand was shielded till now from arrest despite my statements and proof against him,” Hindustan Times reported the complainant as saying. “They even allowed him to be admitted in hospital to delay his arrest.”
Special Investigation Team chief Naveen Arora told The Indian Express that Chinmayanand had confessed to the charges. During questioning, he had reportedly said, “I am ashamed of my act and do not want to give further testimony.” A member of the investigation team said the BJP leader was arrested based on “circumstantial evidence and his presence in the video clips”. “When he was shown the video clips of him getting a body massage, Chinmayanand confessed it was a video of him. He also admitted to using objectionable words while talking to the woman,” The Indian Express quoted the officer as saying.
“During investigation, we found all the accused (in the extortion case) were together since September 17 and made several calls to each other,” an SIT member told The Indian Express. “During analysis of cellphones, we found the woman spoke to Sanjay over phone 4,200 times since January this year. She also spoke to Chinmayanand over 200 times during the same period.”
Soon after allegations against the BJP leader had surfaced, his lawyer had refuted them, saying that they were an extortion attempt. He had also claimed that in a WhatsApp message to Chinmayanand a person had made a demand for Rs 5 crore and threatened to tarnish his reputation.
Last month, the 23-year-old student went missing soon after posting a video detailing her ordeal. Although she did not name anyone, her father named Chinmayanand in a missing-person complaint. On August 27, the police booked Chinmayanand on kidnapping charges. The woman was found in Rajasthan on August 30, and produced in the Supreme Court.
Last week, she claimed that she possessed about 35 videos that would implicate Chinmayanand. The complainant said she wore glasses with a hidden camera when summoned to the former BJP MP’s home to give him “a massage”.
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