Student accused of extortion bids, sent to 14-day judicial custody
Hours before her bail plea was rejected, the law student who has accused former Union Minister Swami Chinmayanand of rape was arrested by the special investigation team (SIT) of Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday around 9.15 am. The SIT team swooped on her Shahjahanpur house and arrested her on charges of extortion.
Soon after the woman’s arrest, her counsel Anoop Trivedi filed a bail plea that was to be heard in court later in the day. Assistant Prosecution Officer Lal Sahab said the plea was rejected by the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate.
Chinmayanand’s own bail application in the sexual assault case is coming up for hearing on Monday. The 23-year-old woman studied at a college run by the leader’s ashram.
The BJP, meanwhile, disowned itself from the 72-year-old politician, saying he is not a party member. But it did not specify when the he stopped being a BJP member.
“We have sufficient evidence that `5-crore extortion money was demanded from Chinmayanand,” SIT chief Inspector General Naveen Arora told reporters.
The three men arrested earlier for extortion have told the SIT that they sent messages to Chinmayanand “in panic” on the student’s directions when the demanded money was not delivered, the IG said.
They had threatened to upload on social media video clips that showed the woman giving massages to the politician, police said. Another SIT officer, Bharti Singh, said the police arrested the student after confronting her with video clips — one of them on an alleged conversation in a car between her and the three men discussing the alleged extortion plan.
The officer claimed that during the questioning in the morning at her home, the student “verified” the contents of the clip and confirmed it had her voice and that of the other three.
On Friday, the SIT formed by the Uttar Pradesh police on the directions of the Supreme Court, had arrested the BJP leader on the basis of the woman’s complaint.
He was sent to judicial custody but shifted on Monday to Lucknow’s Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, where he is still admitted under the care of cardiologists.
Simultaneously, the SIT team arrested Sanjay Singh, Sachin Sengar and Vikram, while booking the student herself on extortion charges levelled earlier by Chinmayanand.
Her lawyer said another application seeking her release on bail will be filed in the sessions court on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Chinmayanand’s counsel Om Singh said he also moved a bail application in the district court on Wednesday and it will be heard on September 30.
His plea as earlier rejected by the Shahjahanpur’s chief judicial magistrate, who said it should be placed before the sessions court.
The SIT moved in to arrest the law student a day after her anticipatory bail application was admitted in the district court, which had scheduled its hearing on Thursday.
SIT members took the woman for a medical examination and later produced her before the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Vineet Kumar, who sent her to 14 days’ judicial custody, officials said.
BJP’s state unit spokesperson Harishchandra Srivastava told PTI that Chinmayanand is not a party member any more.
However, he did not make clear when the former the three-time parliamentarian stopped being a BJP member.
SIT chief Arora said the forensic examination of the evidence, including a pen drive and mobile phones, revealed there was “no addition, alteration, morphing, modification or editing” of the video clips.
He said the SIT has prepared a chart of phone locations and calls that showed that the student and the three others were in touch with each other.
On the spectacles fitted with the spy camera used to record the massage sessions, Arora said, “They were bought online in March by the girl.”
“The girl said they were in her hostel room, which was opened in the presence of a forensic team, the principal, the girl and her father, but it was not found. We are yet to recover it,” he said.
The SIT chief said the mobile messages deleted by Chinmayanand could not be retrieved at the forensic science laboratory where they were sent. The phone has now been sent to the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) in Gujarat’s Gandhinagar, he said.
The woman and the three alleged accomplices were booked under IPC sections 385 (extortion), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 201(disappearance of evidence), and under the Information Technology Act.
Her family members said police personnel brought her out of the house without even allowing her to wear her slippers, an allegation rejected by the police.
The family claimed the police are being soft on the BJP leader.
The politician, sent to judicial custody after his arrest, was booked under section 376C of the IPC, a charge lesser than rape.
It is usually applied in cases where a person abuses his position to “induce or seduce” a woman under his charge to have “sexual intercourse not amounting to the offence of rape”.
He was also booked under sections 354 D (stalking), 342 (wrongful confinement) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.
The student has accused the leader of raping and physically exploiting her for over a year.
The high court on Monday had expressed satisfaction with the progress report on the case submitted by the SIT.
Thursday, 26 September 2019 | PNS | Shahjahanpur