The Bharatiya Janata Party on Wednesday denied any link with former Union minister Chinmayanand, who has been arrested after being accused of raping and physically exploiting a 23-year-old law student in Uttar Pradesh, reported NDTV. “Chinmayanand is not a member of the BJP anymore,” Harish Shrivastava, the party’s spokesperson for the Uttar Pradesh unit, told the news channel.

This is the first comment from the saffron party on the case.

Asked about the case, Shrivastava said the law will take its course. “It’s not a question of documents and we cannot give an exact date but Chinmayanand is not a member of the BJP,” he added.

The 72-year-old was a minister of state for home in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led BJP government. He has been a BJP MP for three terms.

The BJP leader was sent to judicial custody for 14 days on Friday. He has been charged with watered down sexual assault charges but not with rape. While a rape charge carries a term of seven years extending to life, Section 376C 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.

Last month, the 23-year-old complainant 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 was produced in the Supreme Court. Last week, she claimed that she possessed about 35 videos that would implicate Chinmayanand.

Earlier in the day, the student was arrested in connection with an extortion case filed by Chinmayanand. A magistrate sent her to judicial custody for 14 days.

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