Ankita Bhandari murder case: Killers will be hanged, assures police
Days after the alleged murder of Ankita Bhandari, a receptionist at a Uttarakhand resort, the police assured her family that the killers will be hanged. The 19-year-old was allegedly pushed into the Chilla canal by her employer Pulkit Arya—the son of now expelled Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vinod Arya—and his two accomplices in Rishikesh. A special investigation team (SIT) is probing the matter.
Why does this story matter?
- Bhandari went missing on September 18 after the accused reportedly pressurized her to indulge in prostitution.
- Widespread outrage erupted in Uttarakhand as people took to the streets demanding action, following which the accused were held on Friday; they reportedly confessed to the crime.
- Her body was fished out of the canal on September 24.
- The BJP later expelled ex-minister Arya and his son Ankit.
Strictest punishment for the guilty: Police
On Sunday, Uttarakhand DGP Ashok Kumar assured Bhandari's father that enough proof will be produced in court for her killers to be hanged, PTI reported. "I have spoken to the victim's father...assured him of impartial probe into her killing and strictest punishment to the guilty. They will not be spared," Kumar said. Officials also denied reports of evidence being destroyed during the resort's demolition.
'Evidence collected from resort before demolition'
#WATCH | Uttarakhand: Forensic team had collected all the evidence from the Vanatara resort before its demolition (on Sept 24). All evidence found there being used in forensic investigation is safe; further probe underway: DIG PR Devi, SIT In-charge of #AnkitaBhandari murder case pic.twitter.com/fRjgcHKN2U— ANI (@ANI) September 26, 2022
Did BJP destroy evidence?
Notably, many alleged that part of the resort was bulldozed on Saturday in an attempt to destroy evidence. However, the BJP retaliated on Monday, saying the allegations are merely political. "All evidence has been collected. Rumors of evidence being destroyed are baseless and untrue," spokesperson Suresh Joshi said. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami ordered an inquiry into all illegally operated hotels and homestays.
Cremation held on Sunday evening
Bhandari's last rites were conducted at Pauri Garhwal's ITI Ghat on Sunday, hours after her family demanded final autopsy report, refusing to cremate her. She joined Vanantara Resort less than a month ago and reportedly died of drowning. Blunt force injuries were also found on her body. The police are in possession of WhatsApp chats which corroborate that Pulkit was forcing Bhandari into prostitution.
Deceased couldn't even draw first salary
The deceased's mother was reportedly an Anganwadi worker, while her father used to work as a security guard but quit some years ago. Bhandari had finished her schooling and was looking forward to college but couldn't take admission as her family was facing a financial crisis. So, she decided to take up the resort receptionist's job and moved to Rishikesh, 130km from her village.
What exactly happened?
Reportedly, Pulkit was angry over Bhandari revealing to her colleagues about his unsolicited advances. Pulkit and the other accused—his friend Ankit and resort manager Saurabh—took Bhandari out on September 18 to resolve the dispute. They headed to Rishikesh on two bikes, with Pulkit and Bhandari riding together. They stopped midway, where Pulkit and Ankit drank together, and later she was pushed into the river.