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India police arrest former minister after rape claim

  • News Desk

    Agence France-Presse

New Delhi, India   /   Fri, September 20, 2019   /   07:17 pm
India police arrest former minister after rape claim Supporters of President of the Indian National Congress Party Rahul Gandhi hold placards in reaction to the recent rape cases in India during a rally dubbed “Jan Aakrosh Rally” (public outrage), in New Delhi on April 29, 2018. The rally was Gandhi's first in the national capital since taking over as the party chief last year. The rally was called to launch a protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi government's “failures and corruption”. (AFP/Sajjad Hussain)

Indian police Friday arrested a former minister from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party after he was accused of sexually assaulting a 23-year-old woman.

Swami Chinmayanand, 73, a former internal affairs minister, is the second senior member of the right wing Bharatiya Janata Party to face sex charges in recent months.

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

The woman, who has accused the politician of rape, on Thursday threatened to set herself on fire if police did not take action against Chinmayanand.

She filed a case in early September and authorities had faced criticism over the pace of the investigation.

"We arrested him this morning and the court has since sent him to judicial custody for 14 days," Naveen Arora, state police inspector general, told journalists. 

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

Chinmayanand, who served as a junior minister in a coalition government from 1999 to 2004, has so far only been charged with stalking, wrongful confinement and intimidation, Press Trust of India news agency said.

The arrest is the second major embarrassment for the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a top lawmaker from the state, was arrested last year for allegedly raping a teenager.

Sengar again made headlines in July after the teenager's family staged protests accusing him of orchestrating a road accident in which two of the teenager's female relatives were killed. He has since been charged with murder.

The incident led to protests in Uttar Pradesh and New Delhi calling for justice.