‘Is this justice?’ Priyanka Gandhi steps up attack on BJP over Chinmayanand case
Opposition parties including the Congress attacked the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) on Thursday over the arrest of the 23-year-old woman who has accused former Union minister Chinmayanand of raping her in Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh.
The woman, a law student in Shahjahanpur, was arrested on Wednesday by the special investigation team (SIT) in an extortion case. Chinmayanand who was arrested by the SIT on September 20 and is currently under treatment at Lucknow’s Sanjay Gandhi Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, has not been charged for rape.
Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Brinda Karat visited the Shahjahanpur jail on Thursday where the law student has been lodged. Karat remained inside the prison for around 30 minutes. She later discussed the case with the woman’s family and assured them all help. She also visited the Shahjahanpur police lines to meet SIT officials.
“Why was the woman sent to jail for a bailable offence? This is inhuman,” Karat later told reporters.
The woman and her family have denied involvement in the extortion case. “My daughter has not confessed to anything. She was arrested to put pressure on her and weaken her case against Chinmayanand. We just want to appeal to the government to ensure that justice is done in the case,” said the father of the girl adding, “We are being harassed while Swami Chinmayanand is being ‘pampered’ at SGPGI.”
The SGPGI, where Chinmayanad spent his fourth day on Thursday, said he was still complaining of severe weakness and urinary problems.
“He is under observation and undergoing further investigations for his diabetic and urinary problems,” the hospital said.
Samajwadi Party president and former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav also criticised the BJP over the arrest of the woman. “BJP has revealed its real face by sending the daughter, who mustered the courage to raise her voice against a BJP leader, to jail. Today every daughter, sister, and mother in the country is saddened by this shameless act and some people are saying ‘Everything is fine in the country’. Condemnable! The slogan of ‘Beti Bachao’ too has turned out to be a jumla after all,” Akhilesh tweeted on Thursday.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also put the BJP in her line of fire. “The arrest of accused BJP leader was deliberately delayed by the police. Arrested after public pressure. The accused has not even been charged with rape so far. Wah re BJP ka nyay,” she tweeted.
A spokesperson of the BJP’s Uttar Pradesh unit had said on Wednesday that Chinmayanand was not in the party anymore.
The bail appeal of the woman will be heard in a local court in Shahjahanpur on September 30, her father said. Her lawyer had earlier appealed for an anticipatory bail but she was arrested before court’s decision over it.
Chinmayanand’s lawyers have also applied for bail, which is scheduled to be heard the same day.
Chinmayanand was arrested last week on the complaint from the law student. That arrest coincided with the arrest of three more people - Sanjay Singh Sachin Sengar and Vikram Singh -- for attempting to extort money from Chinmayanand. The woman is a co-accused in the extortion case.
The case hit national headlines last month when the woman went missing on August 24 after posting a video on social media alleging that a “senior leader of the seer community” was harassing and threatening her. Her father went public to blame Chinmayanand for her disappearance. She was later found in Rajasthan.
The woman, who studied at a college run by Chinmayanand’s ashram, also alleged that she was raped and physically exploited by the 72-year-old for over a year.