LUCKNOW: Former Union Minister Swami Chinmayanand, 72, was arrested from his Ashram in Shahjahanpur by the Special Investigation Team (SIT), probing the harassment and rape charges levelled against him by a law student, on Friday morning.
The SIT arrested the Swami, who heads the Mumukshu Ashram in Shahjahanpur, amid a heavy police presence and produced him in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) after his medical check-up at the state medical college in the district at 8:50 on Friday morning.
As the SIT booked Swami Chinmayanand under Sections 376 C (sexual intercourse by authority), 342 (Wrongful Confinement), 354 D (stalking) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of IPC, the CJM court remanded him to 14-day judicial custody and he was sent to the district jail.
The SIT also arrested three persons, including Sanjay Singh, the friend of the complainant, and her two cousins for a bid to extort Rs 5 crore from the former MP, the FIR of which was filed by Chinmayanand’s lawyer Om Singh last month.
The name of the law student, 23, who has accused the Swami of rape, also purportedly figures among the accused in the extortion case where she is mentioned as ‘Ms A’ in the FIR. However, she has not been arrested but could be interrogated by the SIT in that connection.
The student, pursuing a law course in SS Law College being run by Chinmayanand’s Mumukshu ashram in Shahjahanpur, had levelled charges of harassment and sexual exploitation against the Swami by posting a video on Facebook on August 22.
Later on Friday, SIT chief IG Naveen Arora claimed that Chinmayanand had admitted to almost all the charges levelled against him in the case during his interrogation by the probe team after his arrest.
"He has confessed to having inappropriate conversations with the girl and a body massage. He has not directly accepted the rape allegations but there is enough circumstantial evidence and video clips that lead to it. Swami Chinmayanand confessed that he was ashamed of his acts and did not wish to say anything further," I-G Arora said.
Further elaborating on the evidence, SIT chief I-G Arora said, “The phone call records of Swami Chinmayanand and the girl shows that they both spoke to each more than 200 times all this long … He said that he was ashamed of what he had done,” Arora reiterated.
The SIT chief also confirmed that the three accused in the extortion case had also confessed to their involvement in blackmailing and threatening the Swami with releasing his videos on social media if he would not pay them Rs 5 crore.
Meanwhile, reacting to the arrests in the extortion case, the complainant in the rape case denied any involvement.
"I can’t say whether those who helped me in escaping from Shahjahanpur were actually saving me or using me. I have no connection with the extortion case,” she said adding that she believes her name was being dragged into it to dilute her rape complaint.
“I am not happy with the SIT probe into the rape case as they have charged Chinmayanand under IPC Section 376 C, not 376," said the girl.
The complainant had recorded her statement under Section 164 of the CrPC pertaining to rape charges against the Swami on Monday. On Wednesday, she had even threatened self-immolation if the SIT did not arrest Swami Chinmayanand. But the SIT chief had urged the complainant to have faith in the probe team. He had claimed that the probe team was awaiting the report of the Forensic Science Laboratory on the veracity of digital evidence against the accused.
While testifying before the SIT in connection with the case, the complainant’s father had submitted around 43 video clips substantiating the charges of his daughter against the former minister. The SIT had also examined the principals of the two degree colleges run by Chinmayanand’s Ashram and also the friends and cousins of the complainants.
The SIT is supposed to submit its report to the Allahabad High Court on September 23 following the directives of the Supreme Court which had taken suo motu cognisance of the case. The apex court had heard the complainant and directed the UP government to set up an SIT.