In 2014, the school had produced a fabricated document to prove that the victim was not a minor. It was rejected by the trial court.
Krishna Pal Singh, better known as Swami Chinmayanand, has been in troubled waters lately. On August 23, a video of a 23 year-old girl from Shahjahanpur’s SS Law College surfaced online, where she claimed that a “big leader of the saint society” in Shahjahanpur who had “destroyed the lives of several girls” had been threatening to kill her family.
The SS Law College is run by the Mumukshu Shiksha Sankul, an organisation headed by Chinmayanand.
In an FIR lodged a few days later, the girl’s father accused 72 year-old Chinmayanand, a former minister of state for Home affairs in the third Vajpayee government, of abduction and criminal intimidation.
It has now emerged that in 2014, a school in Shahjahanpur run by Chinamayanand’s organisation was involved in fabricating a document to discredit the victim in the Asaram Bapu sexual assault case.
Asaram was pronounced guilty of raping a minor by a trial court in April 2018. He had been convicted under under IPC Sec 376 (punishment for rape) and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO), 2012.
Asaram had been accused by the victim’s family of rape at his ashram in Manai village near Jodhpur. The family belongs to Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur town.
During the trial, Asaram’s legal team had tried to free the godman from the charges filed against him under POSCO by arguing that the girl was 18 years-old at the time of the incident at the Ashram. However, the matriculation documents obtained by the Jodhpur police had shown that she was in fact 16.
In 2014, both the local and national media had reported that Asaram’s associates had gone to a painful extent to disprove the victim’s claim that she was a minor. If this was established, Asaram could have escaped charges filed against him under the POSCO Act. The tactics used by the associates included leveling pressure on the heads of institutions where the victim had studied.
“Last October-November, Asaram’s associates had dedicated themselves to fabricating birth certificates of the victim,” Aaj Tak had reported in March 2014, in an article titled “Victim turned adult to save Asaram”. It went on: “The associates put significant pressure on the municipal corporation and the principal of the school where the victim studied till 5th grade, but with no success.”
However, success soon arrived in the guise of a document from the principal of the Sri Shankar Mumukshu Vidyapeeth (SSMV) — one of the five educational institutions in Shahjahanpur that come under the Mumukshu Shiksha Sankul headed by Chinmayanand.
In late February 2014, Dainik Bhaskar had reported that after playing unsuccessful pressure games on other institutions, “Asaram’s associates focused on Sri Shankar Mumukshu Vidyapeeth.”
It added: “In a letter to the police on February 6, the principal [of SSMV] has indicated that the date of birth of the victim is August 6, 1995. According to this new date of birth, the girl was an adult at the time of the incident.”
The Sri Shankar Mumukshu Vidyapeeth (SSMV) in Shahjahanpur
Asaram’s victim had been at Shahjahanpur’s SSMV school in nursery and kindergarten, though without going through a formal admission procedure. According to Aaj Tak, the victim’s father claimed that his daughter’s name was “forcefully registered” when the school had newly opened. He was quoted as saying that “she would go to school with her brother just like that. She was not old enough to be admissible then. The school officials had written her name after increasing her age.”
Asaram’s counsel had produced the document from Chinmayanand’s school in the Jodhpur court as evidence of the victim being an adult.
On the condition of anonymity, a source from the victim’s legal team told Newslaundry that the court struck it down citing a rule that records from play school in establishing one’s date of birth weren’t accepted. “Age of the victim shown in her matriculation certificate is sufficient to establish her being a minor,” one of the judges observed.
This led to another plea, and this time a similar document from the Chinamayanand’s school was produced showing that the girl had been a student in the first and second grade as well. This document was meant to circumvent the playschool rule.
“None of the documents had any signatures from the then principal. It had the date of birth, date of admission and date of promotion. That’s it. They were fabricating things on the go,” said the source.
Dainik Jagran’s Shahjahanpur-based correspondent Narendra Yadav, who had reported on the Asaram trial for years, told Newslaundry that the school’s document flew in the face of evidence. He said: “There were certificates from multiple institutions to prove that the girl was a minor — her 5th grade school documents, high school documents, even the documents with the Ashram. So any documents from nursery did not matter. When she had gone to Chinmayanand’s school as a toddler with her brother, the authorities had registered her name forcefully to inflate the number of students who were studying there.”
In Shahjahanpur, the father of the victim in the Asaram case told Newslaundry that Chinamayanand had tried his best to save Asaram. “His efforts to save Asaram were full-fledged. He tried to push a fabricated document in court to prove that my daughter was an adult. He even made the principal of the school give statements to the court in Jodhpur twice,” he said.
When contacted, the SSMV administration told Newslaundry that the principal of the school at the time was one Jaya Kamath, and the school was no longer in touch with her.
Chinmayanand’s legal team told Newslaundry that it had no comments on the matter.