Former minister from India's ruling BJP arrested after rape claim

Swami Chinmayanand of the Hindu nationalist party arrested in Uttar Pradesh state for allegedly raping a student.

    A former Indian government minister and and member of the ruling right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been arrested after he was accused of sexually assaulting a student, police and his lawyer said.

    Swami Chinmayanand, 73, who was an internal affairs minister during a coalition government from 1999 to 2004, was “arrested this morning and the court has since sent him to judicial custody for 14 days,” Naveen Arora, Uttar Pradesh state’s police inspector general, told reporters on Friday.

    Chinmayanand runs several educational and welfare institutions in the BJP-ruled northern state of Uttar Pradesh and the alleged victim, now 23, was a student at one of his colleges, according to media reports.

    The alleged victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, accused Chinmayanand of raping and physically exploiting her in a Facebook video released on August 22.

    Chinmayanand was charged under a section of the Indian penal code that covers sex crimes by a person in authority, his lawyer Pooja Singh told Reuters news agency.

    According to Press Trust of India news agency, the BJP leader so far has been charged only with stalking, wrongful confinement and intimidation.

    Indian media reports said the woman has also been charged with extortion.

    On Thursday, the woman had threatened to set herself on fire if police did not act against Chinmayanand. She filed her case earlier this month and authorities had faced criticism over the pace of the investigation.

    Arora said the accused had been confronted with phone records and recordings, and had admitted to some of the accusations against him.

    The arrest is the second major embarrassment for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP party in Uttar Pradesh in as many years.

    Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a top legislator from the state, was arrested last year for allegedly raping a teenager.

    Sengar again made headlines in July when two of the teenager’s female relatives were killed after a truck crashed into the teenager’s car.

    The teenager’s family accused the BJP leader of orchestrating the road accident and the federal police opened a murder investigation against him.

    Sengar, who was expelled by the BJP in August, denies the rape and any involvement in the car crash.

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