The 23-year-old law student from Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur, who was reported missing after she accused BJP leader Swami Chinmayanand of harassment, will be under Supreme Court’s protection for the next four days until she meets her parents, who will be brought to the national capital by the Delhi police.
The woman, who was brought to the court from an undisclosed location in Rajasthan after having fled her college Swami Shukdevanand Law College in Shahjahanpur with three of her friends, did not want to go to her home, the apex court bench comprising justices R Banumathi and A S Bopanna said.
The bench said the woman will be in the national capital for four days and the apex court registry will ensure her safe stay. The top court directed Delhi Police Commissioner to ensure safe travel of the woman’s parents from UP’s Shahjahanpur to Delhi to meet her.
The court said that the girl will be allowed to speak to her parents on a landline phone till she meets them and till this time, no one else would be allowed to meet her or speak to her. She would either be put up at the YWCA hostel or the All India Working Women Conference Hostel in New Delhi. The next hearing of the case would be held on Monday.
The girl, who was found with her male friend, had made a video of herself and uploaded it on her social media account, after which she had gone underground.
The police tracked her movement and raided a hotel in Rohini near Delhi Airport but by then, she had moved out. Police identified her from CCTV footage taken from the hotel lobby. Seven police teams had been formed to locate her.
In the video uploaded on August 24, the law student accused a top leader of “ruining the lives of several girls”, including hers, and also “threatening her and her family”. The girl said she has all the evidence against this person and appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP CM Yogi Adityanath to help her as the ‘sanyasi’ (sage) was threatening her, saying he had “the police and the district magistrate on his side”.
Chinmayanand, a former minister in Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, was a member of the Lok Sabha from Jaunpur in 1999, Badaun in 1991 and from Machhlishahar in 1988 — each time on 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 ashram in Shahjahanpur and Haridwar.
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.
On August 25, the father of the law student complained to the local police that his daughter is missing, her cell phone is switched off and her hostel room is 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.
In a counter complaint alleging blackmail, Chinmayanand’s lawyers said an unidentified caller was threatening that if ₹5 crore was not paid, he would make public some edited/morphed footage of the leader and defame him in public.
(Vivek Avasthi is Senior Editor – Politics with Business Television India (BTVI))