Chinmayanand case: Body cam, sleaze, counter-sting, but ‘slow’ police action
Former MP Chinmayanand is under observation in a Lucknow hospital while the woman, who has been booked for extortion, is lodged in Shahjahanpur jail since her arrest on Wednesday.
So, is the woman a rape victim or a mastermind extortionist? Or both? The special investigation team (SIT) of UP police is under a cloud for not booking the BJP leader for rape, but for misusing his authority to induce the woman into sexual relations, and then arresting the woman and her three friends for extortion. To buttress its claims of a fair probe, the SIT points out that Allahabad High Court has expressed satisfaction with its probe. ET tries to dissect the case :
THE WOMAN'S STING
The police case is that Chinmayanand got the woman a job in his college, a hostel accommodation and even helped her mother and brother get jobs. In return, it is alleged, the former MP sought sexual favours by misusuing his authority.
The woman, on March 27, ordered ‘spy-cam spectacles’ from Flipkart costing about Rs 2,000 and started filming when the MP asked her to give him massages. Chinmayanand did get curious over why she wore spectacles suddenly but she said it was because of working long hours on the computer.
After some hits-and-misses, the woman managed to shoot nearly 60 videos over a period of three months but did not complain to the police. She confided in her friend, Sanjay Singh, about the videos.
Then, on August 17 this year, the woman disappeared with Singh and his two friends in a taxi of one Anoop. On August 22, Chinmayanand got a WhatsApp message from a number asking for Rs 5 crore, attaching screenshots of the videos and a threat to make them public. The same day, the BJP leader's lawyer lodged a complaint with the police.
THE DRIVER'S STING
Anoop could listen in on the discussions between the woman and her friends as he ferried them from UP to Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan from August 17 to August 30. He used a mobile app in his phone to surreptitiously film their discussion inside the car in which Sanjay can be heard saying he made the extortion bid on the woman's push.
On August 24, the woman put out a video on Facebook saying she faced a threat to her life from Chinmayanand, and her father lodged a case of kidnapping against the BJP leader. The police could not trace the four friends till August 30 when Anoop used his debit card to withdraw money from an ATM in Dausa, giving a clue to the police which then reached them.
The woman then claimed that she had been sexually exploited by Chinmayanand and provided the SIT with 50 videos. Her spy-cam spectacles, a crucial piece of evidence, however was never recovered. She also did not hand over her mobile phone to the SIT. But Anoop provided the extortion-plot video shot by him to SIT and allegedly even to Chinmayanand -- he became an important witness for the SIT that led to the arrest of the woman.
SIT’S KID-GLOVE TREATMENT?
While Chinmayanand is now in a Lucknow hospital for treatment though doctors have said he does not need an angioplasty procedure for his heart, the woman is lodged in Shahjahanpur jail since her arrest on Wednesday before her anticipatory bail plea could be heard by the court. Her regular bail plea was also rejected as the court said she faces a serious offence.
The SIT has described her as virtually a mastermind of the extortion plot, citing statements of her three friends who have allegedly implicated her, and claiming the woman has confessed being in the video shot by Anoop.
In UP and Bihar, extortion is seen as a serious offence with Gangsters Act being invoked in the past for the same. SIT claims Chinmayanand was not booked for rape as contents of the woman's statement under Section 164 of CrPC before a magistrate did not invoke that offence. The woman wanted to record her statement again before the court but in vain as Chinmayanand's lawyers said she merely wanted to ‘improve’ upon the earlier statement.
Case getting murkier amid complex plots
The woman buys a spy-cam spectacles from Flipkart, records nearly 60 videos of sexual acts she was being induced into by former MP Chinmayanand.
The woman, along with her three friends, goes missing from Shahjahanpur. They go to Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Rajashan. Taxi owner Anoop fi lms their discussions.
Woman puts out a video on Facebook, says her life under threat from Chinmayanand.
Chinmayanand gets a message on his phone with demand of Rs 5 Cr from the woman’s friends or threat to make his vidoes public. His lawyer lodges a complaint with police.
Tracking Anoop’s details, UP police fi nds Girl with her friend in Dausa, Rajasthan. The woman alleges before SIT that she has also been sexually harassed by Chinmayanand.
SIT arrests Chinmayanand for misusing his authority for sexual relations not amounting to rape.
SIT arrests the woman and her three friends for extortion. She is sent to jail for next 14 days.