India arrests woman who accused BJP leader of sexual assault

September 26, 2019

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A 23-year-old student has accused former BJP minister Chinmayanand of sexual assault, harassment and intimidation. — Photo courtesy BBC/Facebook
A 23-year-old student has accused former BJP minister Chinmayanand of sexual assault, harassment and intimidation. — Photo courtesy BBC/Facebook

A 23-year-old law student who accused a leader of India's governing party of sexual assault was arrested on Wednesday on charges of extortion, police said.

Naveen Arora, a police officer handling the case, said the woman is accused of demanding nearly $700,000 from the lawmaker, Chinmayanand, who uses one name, and “was arrested from her residence and will be produced before a court”.

In August, the student accused Chinmayanand, a leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and president of the college where she studies, of sexual assault, harassment and intimidation. She first mentioned his alleged harassment in a video clip posted on social media last month.

The politician's lawyer has denied the allegations.

Chinmayanand, who was was arrested on September 20, has been shifted from a jail to a hospital in Lucknow, the capital of the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, where he is being treated for cardiac problems.

The 72-year-old is a former minister from Uttar Pradesh and had previously faced charges in a rape case filed in 2011. Those charges were withdrawn in 2017.

The law student had said earlier that the case of extortion against her had been slapped to weaken her case against Chinmayanand.

BJP has a checkered history of its leaders being accused of sexual assault. In August, lawmaker Kuldeep Singh Sengar was sacked from the party after being accused of raping a 17-year-old girl in 2017.

In January 2018, two BJP lawmakers attended protest rallies held by Hindu organisations defending the accused in the rape and murder of an 8-year-old inside a Hindu temple. It was only after a national uproar that the BJP made the two ministers resign.