Former Union minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader Chinmayanand will lose his status as a Hindu sant or an ascetic after he confessed to sexually assaulting a law student from Uttar Pradesh, IANS reported on Saturday. The Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad, an organisation of Hindu seers and ascetics, made the decision at a meeting on Saturday.

“A formal meeting of the Akhilesh Bhartiya Akhara Parishad will be held in Haridwar on October 10 and this decision will get the seal of approval from the general body,” the body’s President Mahant Narendra Giri said. “Chinmayanand has accepted his misdeeds and there could be nothing more shameful for the sant community. He will be externed until the day he is exonerated from the court.”

The BJP leader is currently the mahamandaleshwar [the highest level of Hindu spiritual guardianship] of the Maha Nirvani Akhara. He was arrested on Friday and has been charged with watered down sexual assault charges but not with rape.

The 23-year-old student has accused the former Union minister of raping and harassing her when she pursued a law course in the college, where Chinmayanand is the president. The woman was filmed while bathing in her hostel room and then allegedly blackmailed with the footage.

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”. She had gone missing last month after posting a video of her accusing the BJP leader and was found a week later in Rajasthan by the police.

The BJP leader is a three-time Lok Sabha MP and was also a minister of state in Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s administration. Chinmayanand along with Mahant Avaidyanath, who is the spiritual leader of Adityanath, created the ‘Ram Mandir Mukti Yagya Samiti’ and was at the forefront of the Ayodhya dispute.

Corrections and clarifications: The article has been modified to explain that the Akhil Bharatiya Akhara Parishad is an organisation of Hindu ascetics, and not saints. Hindu religious leaders and ascetics do not have any highest decision-making body.

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