A former federal government minister of India and member of the ruling right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been arrested after he was accused of sexually assaulting a student, police and his lawyer said.
Swami Chinmayanand, 73, who was an internal affairs minister during a BJP-led coalition government from 1999 to 2004, was “arrested this morning and the court has since sent him to judicial custody for 14 days”, Naveen Arora, Uttar Pradesh state’s inspector general of police, told reporters on Friday.
Chinmayanand runs several educational and welfare institutions in the BJP-ruled northern state of Uttar Pradesh and the alleged victim, now 23, was a student at one of his colleges, according to media reports.
Finally after dilly dallying for 2 weeks & not even registering an FIR of rape despite the law student's written complaint & statement before Magistrate, & 42 videos given by her, the UP Police SIT finally arrested BJP's 'Swami' Chinmayanand today, responding to public outrage pic.twitter.com/cfHswSvMe8
— Prashant Bhushan (@pbhushan1) September 20, 2019
The alleged victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, accused Chinmayanand of raping and physically exploiting her in a Facebook video released on August 22.
Chinmayanand was charged under a section of the Indian penal code that covers sex crimes by a person in authority, his lawyer Pooja Singh told Reuters news agency.
However, according to Press Trust of India news agency, the BJP leader so far has been charged only with stalking, wrongful confinement and intimidation.
Indian media reports said the woman has also been charged with extortion.
A worrying update on the #Chinmayanand story . In this release , the @Uppolice SIT probing the case says they have booked the law student for extortion. In the document ,she is referred to as 'Miss A' .So no rape charge against #Chinmayanand ,but law student booked for extortion pic.twitter.com/r1wYqmufUD
— Alok Pandey (@alok_pandey) September 20, 2019
On Thursday, the woman had threatened to set herself on fire if the police did not act against Chinmayanand. She filed her case earlier this month and authorities had faced criticism over the pace of the investigation.
Arora said the accused had been confronted with phone records and recordings, and had admitted to some of the accusations against him.
The arrest is the second major embarrassment for Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s BJP, which also happens to be the ruling party in Uttar Pradesh, in as many years.
Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a top legislator from the state, was arrested last year for allegedly raping a teenager.
Sengar again made headlines in July when two of the teen’s female relatives were killed after a truck crashed into their car.
Her family accused the BJP leader of orchestrating the road accident and the federal investigating agency CBI opened a murder investigation against him.
Sengar, who was expelled by the BJP in August, denies the rape and any involvement in the car crash.