A 23-year-old law student from Swami Shukdevanand Law College in Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh, who went missing soon after she accused BJP leader Swami Chinmayanand of sexual harassment, has been located by police from an undisclosed destination in Rajasthan.
Rajesh Pandey, DIG Barielly Zone has said that the girl and her friend were found from Dausa District of Rajasthan. The girl and her friend, who has been identified as Sanjay Singh will be questioned as this does not seem to be a case of kidnapping or abduction. Both will later be produced in court.
The police are trying to ascertain a link between the missing case and the case of extortion of ₹ five crore from Swami Chinmayanand.
Meanwhile, while hearing the case of the law student on Friday (August 30), the Supreme Court asked the Uttar Pradesh government to inform it when she can be produced in court.
The matter had been listed for hearing before a bench of Justices R Banumathi and A S Bopanna. The court took suo motu cognizance of the issue after a group of lawyers brought it to attention.
Senior police officers of the state are tight-lipped about the case in which the girl, who had levelled serious allegations against Chinmayanand, a former minister in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government and owns the college in which she studied.
The girl had made a video of herself and had uploaded it on her social media account, following which she went missing. Seven teams of police were formed to locate the girl. Police tracked her movement and raided a hotel in Rohini near Delhi Airport. But she had left the hotel by the time police reached the spot. Police identified her with the help of CCTV footage taken from the hotel lobby.
In the self-recorded video uploaded on her Facebook page on August 24, the law student had accused the BJP leader of “ruining the lives of several girls”, including hers, and also of “threatening her and her family”. The girl said she had all the evidence against the leader and appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to help her as the “sanyasi” (Chinmayanand) was threatening her by saying that he had “the police and the district magistrate on his side”.
Chinmayanand was a member of the Lok Sabha from Jaunpur in 1999, from Badaun in 1991 and from Machhlishahar in 1988 — each time on a BJP ticket. He is the director of the Swami Shukdevanand Law College, whose website says that it is affiliated to Rohilkhand University of Bareilly and the Bar Council of India. He is also the director of Swami Shukdevanand Post Graduate College and SSMB Inter College in Shahjahanpur. He also runs an ashram in Shahjahanpur and Haridwar.
On August 25, the father of the girl complained to the local police that his daughter was missing, her cell phone was switched off and her hostel room was locked and that no one from the college was telling the family anything. He alleged that Swami Chinmayanand and his henchmen had been threatening their daughter and the family. He had appealed that the police should seal the hostel room where his daughter had been staying in the presence of media so that evidence is not destroyed.
Shahjahanpur superintendent of police S Chanappa said the BJP leader has been booked under IPC sections 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder) and 506 (criminal intimidation) based on the complaint of the student’s father. But strangely, the police did not even try to take the statement of the politician who wields much power in the state and the country. When the police team visited the residence and campus office of Swami Chinmayanand he was not there.
In a complaint alleging blackmail, Chinmayanand’s lawyers said an unidentified caller was threatening that if ₹5 crore was not paid, he would make viral some edited/morphed footage of the leader and defame him in public.
He had hit the headlines in 2011, when a girl living in his ashram for several years accused him of abduction and rape. In April 2018, the Yogi Adityanath government withdrew the case against him.
(The writer is a senior editor of politics with Business Television India)