The unbelievably perverse UP police

The unbelievably perverse UP police

chinmayanand

There cannot be a more perverse picture of justice than a victim of rape being arrested and taken to jail while the person being accused of rape is allowed to relax in a hospital. But such is the fate today of the 23-year-old law student from Shahjahanpur in Uttar Pradesh who has charged that she had been raped for over a year by former union minister and BJP leader Chinmayanand. The UP police’s Special Investigation Team (SIT), which was formed after the Supreme Court took suo moto cognizance of the case, arrested the woman on Wednesday on extortion charges. She was arrested when her plea for interim bail was pending in a court, the UP police thus making it clear they did not want to allow her access to legal remedies.

‘Swami’ Chinmayanand, aged 72, is an influential BJP leader, and is close to UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and this is not the first time that he has faced rape charges. The BJP has now claimed, so unconvincingly, that he is not a member of the party, but the state government and the police have clearly been shielding him. He was not arrested for 45 days after the woman made her charge. Even when he was arrested last week, he was not charged with rape but with “sexual intercourse by a person in authority not amounting to rape”, even after the woman produced as many as 45 tapes with recordings that support her charge. He has not been interrogated till now, but the woman has been grilled for many hours. She had, in fact, to flee for her life once, and but for the Supreme Court, there probably would not have been even the perfunctory action taken so far against the ‘swami’.  

The extortion charge against the woman was made after she had made the rape charge. It is obvious that it is an afterthought and has been made to weaken her case and, perversely, to harass her. But even if it were true, is extortion a more serious crime than rape in the UP police’s reckoning? The extortion charge has actually confirmed the rape charge, and still Chinmayanand, who the UP police said had confessed to his crime, is getting favoured treatment. No leader of the government or the BJP party has come out in support of the victim, but the support for Chinmayanand is as blatant as that for the Unnao rape-and-murder accused Kuldip Singh Senger, another BJP ‘stalwart’ until recently and friend of Yogi Adityanath. All the campaigns for the protection of girls and women sound false and empty when those who face rape charges are protected and victims are harassed and persecuted. 

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