Uttarakhand resort murder: Ankita Bhandari, a 19-year-old receptionist working in Uttarakhand has been missing since Monday. Police recovered her body from a canal on Saturday, and details about her situation before the murder sparked major outrages across the state.
BJP leader Vinod Arya's son has been arrested in the case as the main accused, prompting the party to expel the leader. Arya's son owned the property, which is now under demolition by authorities. Outrage over the killing of the 19-year-old, who worked as a receptionist in the Vanantara resort in Pauri district's Yamkeshwar block owned by Haridwar BJP leader Vinod Arya's son Pulkit Arya, escalated as details emerged of her trauma in the days preceding her death.
Violent protests erupted in areas surrounding the resort with locals breaking glass panes and some trying to torch a pickle factory in its premises. However, the fire did not spread much as the weather was cloudy.
Ankita killed for rejecting 'special services'
Ankita had been under pressure from Pulkit Arya -- who was arrested on Friday with resort manager Saurabh Bhaskar and assistant manager Ankit Gupta and sent to killed for refusing ‘special services’4 days judicial custody -- to provide “special services” to guests, Director General of Police Ashok Kumar said. This had been gleaned from her chat with a friend, he said.
Earlier in the day, Bhandari's Facebook friend reportedly alleged that she was killed because she refused to have sex with guests as demanded by the owner of the resort. Bhandari had called a friend the night before she was reported missing to say she was in trouble, according to local reports.
She went missing on Monday, body recovered on Saturday
According to Pauri Additional SP Shekhar Chandra Suyal, Ankita was found missing by her parents on September 19 (Monday) but they reported the matter to the revenue police the following day. Due to slow progress in the investigation, the matter was handed over to regular police on September 22 and the arrests made on September 23. The three men accused of the crime initially tried to mislead the police, but confessed when interrogated closer, Suyal said yesterday.
On Friday, crowds attacked the police car when the accused were being taken to a court in Kotdwar. They smashed the windowpanes of the car and roughed up the three men. Some women who were part of the mob demanded that the accused must be “hanged.”
Countering the allegations of delay in action against the culprits, DGP Kumar said the matter was transferred to regular police from revenue police on Thursday and the accused were sent behind bars within 24 hours. The autopsy is being done at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh, police said.
CM Dhami says SIT formed
As the ripples of anger spread, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami promised that no one would be spared and that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) headed by Deputy Inspector General P Renuka Devi had been constituted to probe all aspects.
"It is a tragic incident. Such a heinous crime has been committed against our daughter. Action is being taken against those involved in it. The father and brother of the main accused Pulkit Arya have been expelled from the BJP,” Dhami told reporters.
"Demolition of the resort owned by the main accused is underway. Some of its rooms have also been sealed so that evidence is not destroyed. We have also issued an order to identify all resorts built illegally on government or forest land and demolish them,” he added.
Dhami also spoke to Ankita Bhandari's father on the phone and assured him of an impartial and speedy probe in his daughter's murder. Sharing the information in a tweet, Dhami said sternest action will be taken against the guilty which will prove to be a deterrent for criminals who commit such crimes. The administration had started demolishing the structure on Friday night on grounds of illegalities.