30 and counting…grill sessions continue in Chinmayanand caseUpdated: Sep 19, 2019 23:44 IST
At least 30 people, including former union minister Chinmayanand and the woman who accused him of rape, have been interrogated by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) since September 8, but no arrest has been made yet, according to a senior police officer privy to the matter.
Three FIRs have been lodged —two in Shahjahanpur and a third (zero FIR) in New Delhi. The zero FIR (one that can be lodged at any police station regardless of the place of incidence or jurisdiction) was transferred to the SIT.
The interrogations continued on Thursday as the SIT called five people, including the classmates of the woman, for questioning in the afternoon.
The woman had gone ‘missing’ on August 24, a day after she posted a video on the social media alleging that a “senior leader of the seer community” was harassing and threatening to kill her. She did not name Chinmayanand in the video. The Supreme Court took cognizance of the matter and directed the state government to form an SIT to probe the matter.
The woman was found by police in Rajasthan after being missing for nearly a week fearing backlash over the accusations she made on Facebook.
The interrogations began on September 8, the day after the woman returned to UP from Delhi. The woman, her father, mother and brother were quizzed by SIT officials inside the auditorium of Shahjahanpur police lines. On the first day, the woman and her father were quizzed for over 11 hours. Since then the SIT quizzed the woman on five different occasions till date.
Chinmayanand was questioned for eight hours on September 12. According to Om Singh, the lawyer of Chinmayanand, he has been interrogated twice by the SIT.
“Swami Chinmayanand and I have appeared before the SIT for interrogation regarding the matter. Some employees of colleges run by Chinamayanand’s trust have also been quizzed by them,” Om Singh said.
Avneesh Mishra, principal of a graduate college, and Sanjay Baranwal, principal of a law college run by the trust along with Anurag Agarwal, head of the commerce department, were also questioned. Chinmayanand’s trust runs five colleges in Shahjahanpur, including two intermediate and three graduate colleges.
The first FIR in the matter was lodged on August 25 by Om Singh on behalf of Chinmayanand in connection with extortion and threats.
“The FIR was lodged because the woman and her friends, who are member of an extortion gang, asked for ₹ 5 crore (₹ 50 million) from Chinamayanand. They made this demand through a text message which was sent on his phone number,” said the lawyer.
On August 27, Chinmayanand was booked under Sections 364 (kidnapping or abducting in order to murder) and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code based on the complaint of the woman father.
The SIT began investigation of these two cases initially. However on September 7, the woman lodged a complaint of rape at a police station in New Delhi after which a zero FIR was registered and transferred to the SIT.
“I have submitted proof and given statement to the SIT stating that I was raped by Chinmayanand. I have also said the same in detail before the magistrate, yet he (the former minister) has not been arrested,” said the woman, who along with her parents, reached Prayagraj on Wednesday.
The woman recorded her statement before the magistrate on September 16. She was earlier taken for medical examination.
Former union minister discharged from hospital
Former union minister Chinmayanand on Thursday evening was discharged from the Shahjahanpur district hospital where he had been admitted in a private ward on Wednesday after complaining of stomach ache.
Although the hospital administration said the BJP leader was referred to the King George’s Medical University (KGMU) in Lucknow, Chinmayanand returned to his ashram in Shahjahanpur.
All through the day on Thursday, Laxman Singh, 27, a cleaner at Chinmayanand’s Ashram stood guard outside the hospital room where Chinmayanand is kept.
“Guruji is sleeping, I have been asked to not allow anyone inside,” Laxman stated sternly.
Minutes later, two people approached the room, told Laxman that they were from the college and entered inside. Chinmayanand was later discharged.
The BJP leader, who was a minister of state for home in Atal Bihari Vajpayee government, continues to have clout in Shahjahapur and in state politics.
First Published: Sep 19, 2019 20:22 IST