“Never Asked Rape Case Against BJP’s Swami Chinmayanand To Be Withdrawn”: Victim Alleges Collusion
The Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government in UP had earlier this month decided to withdraw yet a criminal case against party associate, Swami Chinmayanand. The saffron-clad former Union Minister in PM Vajpayee’s era, was accused of assault, rape, forced abortion and attempt to murder in 2011 by a woman who had fled from his Mumuksh ashram in Shahjahanpur.
The victim denies any reports of her filing an affidavit to withdraw the case and slammed the UP government’s “collusion” with her “abuser”. “A false affidavit was filed in my name. I have said publicly that I did not file the affidavit,” she said to India Today.
The CMO had initiated the order to withdraw on March 6, merely days after UP CM visited and inaugurated Mumuksh Yuva Mahotsav at Swami Chinmayanand’s ashram in Shahjahanpur.
Although the charge-sheet was filed in 2012, no arrests were made, and Chinmayanand got a stay order from Allahabad HC. The next hearing is supposed to take place on May 15 in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Shahjahanpur. Fearing for her life, the victim has now appealed to President of India, Governor of UP Ram Naik and CJI Dipak Mishra to look into this travesty of justice. “This decision by the chief minister is completely wrong. Instead of supporting me, the government is supporting the accused. I am not even being allowed a fair trial. The accused is politically too powerful, and I am too weak,” she said, reported NDTV on April 14.
"I dont want to withdraw my case"
Rape Survivor alleges false affidavit has been submitted in her name which leads to release of Ex Min Swami Chinmayanand who raped her .. Yogi Gov trying to sheild him coz of CM Adityanath's deep relations with him .. #BharatiyaJailParty pic.twitter.com/LZ63dmVlmy
— Niraj Bhatia (@bhatia_niraj23) April 17, 2018
Rape survivor’s quest for justice
The victim escaped the former Union Minister’s ashram in Shahjahanpur after 11 years of allegedly being ‘held captive’ by Swami and his henchmen. She used to frequent religious recitations held at Swami’s Haridwar ashram with her mother. She said that the ‘sadhus’ brainwashed her into becoming a disciple ‘sadhvi’ in 2000 and subsequently moved her to Shahjahanpur and gradually coerced her into stopping all contact with her family and friends.
She claims that she was ‘held captive and raped’ by Swami Chinmayanand and was kept quiet by death threats. The survivor mentions that she managed to escape, but about 20 other women are still in similar situation spread across various ashrams of her ‘abuser.’ In an interview with India Today, she said, “many women stayed there and were forced to marry employees after five years. They were mum because their husbands were weak and dependent on the ashrams. A 15-year-old Nepali girl told me that Chinmayanand had touched her. I contacted her mother, and she took her away.”
The survivor recounts how she managed to gather up the courage and informed a few people about her ordeal and with their help, she was able to leave the ashram in 2011, 11 years after she was ‘brainwashed.’ “Several other girls also went through the torture but could never speak out as he got them married off to his employees. I got out as I managed to get help from an outsider who later married me,” she told NDTV.
When she fled from the ashram, she reported the crime and submitted a detailed FIR to the local police station. Due to the nature of the complaint, the FIR was filed only after a senior police officer interviewed heri. However, since then no progress has been made perhaps because the Investigation Officer in charge of the case was changed eight times.
The woman adds adds, “…every time, the new IO would have breakfast with Chinmayanand, touch his feet and come back. My file disappeared twice.” Instead, she was accused of stealing jewellery from the ashram, and her husband was accused of being a blackmailer. “They said I had political aspirations and a thirst for name and fame,” she told India Today.
Is withdrawing criminal cases the way to make UP crime free?
Before quashing the rape charge on Chinmayanand, CM Yogi Adityanath government has systematically withdrawn 22,000 cases in which any party member is accused or charged with criminal conduct, including a case against the CM himself for violating prohibitory orders in 1995.
On March 22, cases filed against MLA Umesh Malik, UP minister Suresh Rana, MP Bhartendu Singh, former Union minister Sanjiv Balyan, and party leader Sadhvi Prachi and in total 131 cases related to 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots, even for ‘heinous’ crimes like murder and attempted murder, were withdrawn. Muzaffarnagar and nearby areas in August and September 2013 saw large-scale violence leaving more than 60 dead, and over 40,000 people lost their homes.
In 2017, approximately 20,000 cases against politicians were withdrawn by the Uttar Pradesh government on the grounds all these cases were ‘politically motivated’. The CM announced at the time that cases related to breach of peace and violation of prohibitory orders were ‘petty’ and his order to withdraw is aimed at ‘reducing pendency of cases.’
As reported by The Economic Times, a written answer by UP CM Adityanath in Legislative Assembly on March 13, 2018, contained the comparative data of April 2017- Jan 31, 2018, under BJP and the corresponding time frame in 2016-17 under SP rule. The data shows 35% jump in cases of kidnappings of women, 50% increase in cases of eve-teasing, a 25% increase in rape cases, and a 40% rise in incidents of outraging the modesty.