Shahjahanpur: The law student who has accused former BJP MP and union minister Swami Chinmayanad of confining, threatening and raping her on several occasions, is now herself on the radar of the Uttar Pradesh police Special Investigation Team (SIT) as a ‘suspect’ in an extortion case filed by the politician’s lawyer.
According to sources in the SIT, a complex web of phone calls and digital evidence, including a video and CCTV footage, link the student to the case.
On Friday, three men — Sanjay Singh, Sachin Senger and Vikram — were arrested for allegedly sending a text message to Chinmayanand to extort Rs 5 crore from him.
The student was in regular touch with all three, the sources claimed.
Naveen Arora, the Uttar Pradesh Police Inspector General (IG) who is leading the SIT, claimed that the student’s name has still not been added to the FIR registered against the three men.
However, the student’s name featured fourth on the list as ‘Miss A’ under the head ‘accused’ in a press statement given to reporters Friday.
“Her involvement has come to light in the case of extortion but we are still trying to establish her role. Three of her friends, however, have been arrested after we found sufficient evidence against them,” Arora said.
Denying the allegations against the student, her lawyer Seema Mishra told ThePrint that the police is just trying to shift attention from the main case against Chinmayanand of sexual assault by levying these allegations.
“It is a completely biased investigation. It is shocking that they have not booked him for rape, for which the punishment is not less than 20 years, and have just put (IPC section) 376-C (not amounting to rape), a much-diluted section, just to protect him. It is ridiculous,” she said.
“The girl had been suffering for a year and that is what she gets in the end.”
The SIT’ arrested the three men hours after the BJP leader was sent to a district jail in Shahjahanpur for 14 days. He is accused of raping the law student at his ashram in the city.
The extortion case
According to the complaint, Chinmayanand received a text message from an unknown number over messaging app WhatsApp on 22 August. In the text, Chinmayanand was allegedly threatened that videos showing him naked and in obscene circumstances would be leaked online if he didn’t pay up Rs 5 crore.
Speaking to ThePrint, Chinmayanand’s lawyer Om Singh said after receiving the text, the BJP leader instantly forwarded it to him asking him to inform the police and get the number traced.
“The text also said that if he tries to act smart, it will be him who will suffer in the end,” said Singh, adding that he immediately reported the case to the police and lodged a formal complaint on behalf of Chinmayanand.
“I also met senior police officers for the next two days and was assured that the number will be traced,” he added.
However, before a case could be registered, the student posted a video on her Facebook profile on 24 August alleging sexual assault, Singh claimed.
In the video, the student can be heard alleging that she was sexually harassed by a “sanyasi” who is also the “manager” of her college in Shahjahanpur.
“She did not name Chinmayanand in that video. May be it was a tactic to scare him. She released that video because she knew we have approached the police and now her involvement may come in the public domain,” Singh said.
The police registered a case of extortion on the same night, he added.
Complex web of 4,300 calls
According to a flowchart of call details prepared by the SIT, the law student and six of her friends exchanged over 4,300 calls since January. Out of these, the most number of calls were exchanged in the month of August — just before that alleged extortion call was made to Chinmayanand.
ThePrint has seen a copy of the flowchart document.
The flowchart suggested that a man named Taukeer allegedly provided a pre-paid SIM card to someone named Deepanshu, who then handed it over to Sanjay. ThePrint could not verify the dates of these events.
Sanjay installed WhatsApp on his mobile and activated the SIM card through a one-time password provided by Deepanshu. The information about the card’s activation was then conveyed to ‘Miss A’ — the law student, said the document.
Sanjay then called up Vikram, Sachin and a man named Anup, coordinating when and how to send the message. While this was on, Vikram and Sachin also exchanged calls with the law student, the document alleged.
“Sanjay was the center of this operation, as all of these characters including the girl were in touch with him,” alleged a source in the SIT.
“Call details records also showed that Chinmayanand exchanged calls with the law student, her father and mother, who then made several calls to the law student,” said the SIT source.
The student is also seen in a video in which the three men can be seen discussing the extortion attempt, the source alleged.
“While two of her friends are (seen) discussing how they sent a message to a powerful person (Chinmayanand) asking for Rs 5 crore and its implications, while driving in a car, the law student is seen sitting on the rear seat contributing actively to their conversation,” alleged a source in the UP police.
‘Her name’s being dragged’
Speaking to ThePrint, the law student’s father denied that it was his daughter who can be seen in the video in question.
“It is not her. It is someone else. You can see that one of the men is taking her name, which sounds like my daughter’s name, but that is not her name. Look closely and you will know it is not her. That is some other girl,” he said.
“As far as this case of extortion is concerned, my daughter is being dragged into this only because she spoke up against the Swami,” he added.
He also said that his daughter didn’t know any of the boys seen in the video, except for one.
“My daughter knew only one man, Sanjay, who was trying to help her get away from Shahjahanpur. He gave her the courage to speak out. Rest, she does not know any of the boys.”
Lawyer Seema Mishra supported the claims of the student’s father, saying she was being dragged into this case.
“She is a 22-year-old woman who was scared for her life and the life of her family. She knew one of these boys, she confided in him but that does not make her a part of any conspiracy. She is being dragged into this,” said the advocate.
Mobile locations, car route, CCTV footage
Speaking to reporters Friday after the arrest of the three men, IG Naveen Arora said the police established the entire sequence of events by scrutinising digital evidence including mapping the movement of the men through their mobile locations, call detail records and CCTV footage collected from several hotels where she allegedly went with them.
According to the SIT sources, the law student left Shahjahanpur on 24 August with four of her male friends. The identity of the fourth person hasn’t been revealed.
The men first went to Bareilly and then came back to Shahjahanpur. Then they left for Delhi, then Shimla and were finally nabbed on 16 September from Dausa in Rajasthan, said the SIT source quoted above.
The student, who had gone missing soon after her video was posted on Facebook, was also found on 30 August in Dausa accompanying her male friends.
There was a public uproar about the student going missing after speaking out against Chinmayanand. But after she was found in Dausa with her friends, she claimed that she went there with her brother as she felt unsafe in Shahjahanpur.
“She had gone there with her friends willingly and there is video proof for that,” claimed the SIT source.
The source also claimed that while tracking the movement of the men, the SIT went to all locations and accessed CCTV footage of all the hotels that the group had checked in while they were on the run.
“The men, along with the law student, had checked into several hotels including in Shimla and Delhi, where they stayed while on the move. We have CCTV footage of all the hotels,” said a second source in the SIT.
“We also have CCTV footage of all the toll-tax booths they crossed. Their route was tracked with the help of technical surveillance,” added the second source.
Responding to the charges, lawyer Seema Mishra said the law student did go willingly but because she was scared for her life. “She was worried. She knew she would be targeted. She was feeling threatened and hence she was on the run. Does it make her an accused in a case?”
Mishra added, “The Swami used to ask her for massages in the morning and then force her to have sex with her in the afternoon. Is this a joke? Wouldn’t she want to get out of that place as soon as she spoke up against him?”
With inputs from Prashant Srivastava