Former minister from India's ruling party arrested over alleged rape

BJP veteran Swami Chinmayanand was accused of a assault in a video posted online by his alleged victim

INDIA - MARCH 12:  Yogi Adityanath, BJP Member of Parliament from Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh and BJP leader Swami Chinmayanand at Parliament House in New Delhi, India (Parliament Session Feb-March 2007)  (Photo by Sipra Das/The The India Today Group via Getty Images)
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A former government minister and senior member of India's ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was arrested on Friday in connection with rape and sexual harassment allegations made by a law student.

Swami Chinmayanand, who previously served as India's minister of state for internal affairs, has been charged under a section of the Indian penal code that covers sex crimes by a person in authority, said his lawyer, Pooja Singh.

"We have enough evidence and confession from the accused to frame charges," Naveen Arora, one of the police officers investigating the case told a news conference.

The director general of police in Uttar Pradesh state, O P Singh, also confirmed Mr Chinmayanand's arrest, but declined to comment on the nature of the charges.

Pooja Singh said he had been prevented by police from seeing his client. Om Singh, a second lawyer for Mr Chinmayanand, said he had also been unable to meet his client and declined to comment when asked for a response to the charges.

"Cannot say anything as of now. We are moving an application in the court to shift him to the hospital from jail due to his deteriorating health conditions," he said.

Mr Arora declined to comment when asked whether Mr Chinmayanand had been prevented from seeing his lawyers.

The case is the second high-profile arrest in as many years of a member of the Hindu nationalist ruling party for alleged sex crimes. The previous case sparked widespread outrage and protests across the country.

Mr Chinmayanand's alleged victim accused the 72-year-old of raping and physically exploiting her, in a Facebook video released on August 22.

In the previous case in 2018, Kuldeep Singh Sengar, a BJP politician also from Uttar Pradesh, was arrested for his alleged role in the gang rape of a 17-year-old girl.

Federal police opened a murder investigation against Mr Sengar after a truck crashed into the young woman's car two months ago, leaving her critically injured. Mr Sengar denies the rape and any involvement in the car crash, which killed two of the woman's relatives.

The BJP, which also controls the regional government in Uttar Pradesh, India's most populous state, expelled Mr Sengar at the start of August.