The 23-year-old Uttar Pradesh law student who had gone missing after accusing Bharatiya Janata Party leader Swami Chinmayanand, 72, of harassment has been found in Rajasthan, a top police officer said on Thursday. The woman’s family had blamed the BJP leader for her disappearance.
She has been recovered by a police team along with a young man, Additional Director General of Police Bareilly Avinash Chandra told HT. He declined to give any more details, insisting that the police would first need to record her formal statement.
A senior police officer familiar with the development, however, said the girl did not appear to have been under any pressure as she moved from one place to another. “We have CCTV footage, other details (to back up this assessment),” the officer said.
The development came just before a two-judge Supreme Court bench led by Justice R Banumathi was to take up the case. The top court had yesterday taken cognisance of reports about the missing law student who had put out a video message, accusing Chinmayanand of “destroying the lives of several girls”.
Her father, who filed a formal police complaint, blamed the former union minister of state for home and a BJP veteran for his daughter’s disappearance. The woman was a postgraduate student at one of the colleges run by the BJP leader in Shahjahanpur.
Chinmayanand’s lawyer had rubbished the charge, calling it a “conspiracy” to blackmail his client. The BJP leader described the woman’s accusations as an attempt to malign the Yogi Adityanath government. “Earlier Kuldeep Singh Sengar was implicated in a similar case, and now I am being targeted,” he said, a reference to the influential legislator from Unnao who was sacked this month by the BJP.
After an initial round of denials, Chinmayanand has gone incommunicado at a Haridwar ashram 300 km from his home in eastern Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur. Chinmayanand’s lawyer says he has taken a vow of silence.
Last evening, senior UP police officer Avinash Chandra told reporters that the woman’s last known location was a hotel in national capital Delhi’s Dwarka locality. Chandra said she was accompanied by an unidentified young man, according to the hotel’s CCTV footage on August 23.
Shahjahanpur’s senior police superintendent S Chinappa has said their teams were raiding some places based on CCTV footage and call records. The police teams, he said, are investigating the student’s disappearance as well as the extortion case filed by Chinmayanand. The officer said the two cases have a common link but did not elaborate.