In Uttarakhand, a 19-year-old woman named Ankita Bhandari was murdered for allegedly refusing prostitution.
She worked at a resort as a receptionist.
Shocked by her murder, locals set Vanantra Resort on fire as it is owned by Pulkit Arya, the son of former Uttarakhand BJP minister Vinod Arya.
Pulkit is said to be the main suspect in Ankita’s murder and has been arrested as a result.
After she went ‘missing’ on September 19, her parents lodged a complaint at a revenue police outpost as they did not find her in her room.
Revenue police sub-inspector Vivek Kumar at Ganga Bhogpur Talla allegedly delayed filing a report immediately in the matter and made her parents wait for two hours. He has since been suspended.
Ankita Bhandari’s body was recovered from the Chilla Canal on September 24, 2022.
Pulkit Arya, who owns the resort in Yamkeshwar block, resort manager Saurabh Bhaskar and assistant manager Ankit Gupta have confessed to having killed her.
Pauri Additional Superintendent of Police (ASP) Shekhar Chandra Suyal told news agency PTI that the accused threw her body into the canal.
Initially, they tried to mislead the police but they confessed to the crime when they were interrogated.
Pulkit Arya, Bhaskar and Gupta were arrested after they confessed to having killed Ankita Bhandari. They have been sent to 14-day judicial custody by Kotdwar court.
Pulkit Arya is the son of Vinod Arya, a now-suspended BJP leader from Haridwar.
Vinod Arya was formerly the chairman of the Uttarakhand Mati Kala Board with a state minister’s rank.
Vinod Arya was also a Minister of State in the previous BJP government headed by Trivendra Singh Rawat.
The BJP has expelled Vinod Arya and Ankit Arya, the father and brother of Pulkit Arya, from the party with immediate effect.
Ankit was relieved by the Uttarakhand government from the post of Deputy Chairman of the Uttarakhand Other Backward Classes (OBC) Commission.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami described the incident as “extremely sad and unfortunate”, and said those responsible would be given “strict punishment”.
He added: “The police are doing their work and justice to the victim will be ensured.”
Meanwhile, a massive protest erupted in Rishikesh on September 23, 2022, during the transport of the accused in the 19-year-old receptionist’s murder case.
Locals gheraoed the police vehicle that was carrying the accused and also reportedly thrashed them.
Several residents also attempted to vandalise the resort but were stopped by the police, officers said.
Uttarakhand DGP Ashok Kumar said the case was transferred to the Laxman Jhula police and within 24 hours all three accused were arrested.
In a video statement, Additional SP (Kotdwar) Shekhar Suyal said the case was forwarded to the Laxman Jhula station by senior officials after new information came to light.
The Additional SP said: “We found that what was mentioned in the missing report was not what actually happened.
“The resort employees’ statements did not match, the circumstantial evidence told us differently.
“The room from where the girl allegedly went missing did not have any signs of someone having slept there.”
He added: “We traced the phones, checked CCTV footage, and took statements.
“We confirmed that four persons left the resort on the said date and only three returned.”
“Our next step was to arrest the three persons. Initially, they presented themselves as complainants and claimed that they, along with the girl, went (to Rishikesh on September 18) and returned safely.
“They claimed that the girl had dinner at night and slept alone in a room from where she went missing.”