NEWS
28/08/2019 4:40 PM IST | Updated 29/08/2019 9:50 AM IST

This Isn't The First Time BJP Leader Swami Chinmayanand Has Been Accused Of Rape

And the details are eerily similar to the allegations made by the law student who went missing after posting a viral video detailing her case.

The India Today Group via Getty Images
A 2007 photo of Yogi Adityanath with Swami Chinmayanand in New Delhi.

The sexual harassment allegations against Uttar Pradesh BJP leader and former Union minister Swami Chinmayanand are yet another reminder of the Yogi Adityanath government’s propensity to shield prominent politicians from the consequences of their crimes.    

Chinmayanand, who was minister of state in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government from 1999-2004, was booked on Tuesday after a law student, whose video detailing the allegations went viral, went missing on Saturday.  

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The new development comes just about a month after the Unnao rape survivor, who had accused BJP MLA Kuldeep Sengar of the crime, was critically injured in an accident. That had given fresh fire to the outrage around the incident, and the impunity with which Sengar, who was in jail at the time, still seemed to be trying to silence the woman

The law student’s accusations against Chinmayanand also seem to bear eerie similarities to separate allegations made against him in 2011. 

Who is Swami Chinmayanand? 

Chinmayanand was a minister of state for internal affairs in Vajpayee’s government. A three-time Lok Sabha MP from Jaunpur, he is also the president of the management committee of the Swami Sukhdevanand Post Graduate College (SSPG), where the woman who has now gone missing studied. 

Apart from the college, Chinmayanand runs the Mumukshu ashram in Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur. This is where the woman who had earlier accused him of rape said she was assaulted for years. 

Mudit Mathur had written in Tehelka in 2018 that Yogi Adityanath is particularly close to Chinmayanand.  The Uttar Pradesh chief minister has been seen breaking bread with Chinmayanand, attending functions at this ashram and the report said that they are disciples of the same guru. 

What were the law student’s accusations?

The LLM student, who posted a Facebook video asking for help, has accused a sant leader of repeatedly sexually harassing her.

The visibly frightened woman said in her video, “Modiji please, please meri help kariye aap (Modiji please, please help me).” 

While she didn’t name the politician, the details she discloses in the video make it clear who she was referring to. After she went missing, her father alleged on Tuesday that Chinmayanand was behind her harassment. 

The woman alleged that Chinmayanand has “ruined” her life and that of many other women, and that he has been threatening to kill her and her family. 

“That sanyasi has the police and the DM (district magistrate) in his pocket. He threatens everyone and says no one can help me. I have a lot of evidence against him. I request you to get me justice,” the woman said in the video posted on August 24. 

The woman has been untraceable since then. 

The woman’s mother told News18 that the last time she came home, on Raksha Bandhan, she had said that her parents should realise that there was something wrong if her phone was switched off for a long time. 

She told News18, “My girl was going through a lot of pain and trouble but didn’t divulge much. She told me she was being sent to Nainital by her college administration.”

Chinmayanand’s lawyer, dismissing the new allegations, said, “It is entirely a conspiracy to blackmail Swami ji and become a crorepati using shortcuts. When the idea did not work, then an effort was made to tarnish his image as vendetta.” 

He even furnished a WhatsApp message, which he claims asks the BJP leader for Rs 5 crore, as “proof” of these allegations.

Both the women have alleged that there are “many others” like them.

What are the details of the earlier case? 

In November 2011, a disciple of Chinmayanand’s ashram had accused him of abduction and rape. The woman said that the sadhus of Chinmayanand’s Haridwar ashram had “brainwashed” her into becoming a sadhvi. After a few days in Haridwar, the woman said, she was asked to move to Shahjahanpur to study at SSPG and stay in the ashram there. 

India Today quoted the woman as saying, “The Shahjahanpur ashram has only employees and a group of criminals. I was threatened, held captive and totally cut off from my family.”

The woman also alleged that she was forced to get an abortion when she got pregnant after being raped by Chinmayananda. 

The woman added that many other survivors of sexual assault were forced to marry ashram employees.  

The woman told Tehelka that when people started asking why she was still at the college after having completed her studies, they made her secretary of the college.

“I then started sharing my painful nightmares with the people who used to come to the ashram. I then planned to escape from the hell with the help of people whom I trusted. They assembled on that day to ensure safe passage for me. Seeing so many people around, the employees could not stop me. And that is when I met my future husband to whom I narrated my story,” the report quoted her as saying. 

When the woman finally managed to escape, she was accused of having stolen cash and jewellery from the ashram, much like how the woman who has just gone missing is being accused by Chinmayanand’s lawyer of extortion. 

Like the law student, the ashram disciple also said that she was threatened by Chinmayanand and his men. “I have serious threat from Chinmayanand and his aides. They can attack me or my minor child anytime. I want this case to be transferred out of the state,” she had told The Times of India last year.

Both the women have alleged that there are “many others” like them. 

What is the UP government doing? 

The ashram disciple from the earlier case had also alleged that she had not been able to get justice because of government interference in the case. 

In 2018, the Adityanath government decided to withdraw the rape and abduction case against Chinmayanand. The Times of India reported that on  March 9, the Shahjahanpur administration wrote to the prosecution officer of the case to withdraw the case against him, without citing a reason. 

However, the petition was rejected by a court in Shahjahanpur that issued a bailable warrant against him

Chinmayanand has never been arrested in the case, despite a chargesheet being filed against him in 2012.