SIT Interrogates accused in Ankita Bhandari murder case, CM assure speedy justice to bereaved family
State wide strike call against murders of Ankita, Jagdish Chander in Uttarakhand
Dehradun , Sept 30
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) formed by the Uttarakhand police to probe the killing of Ankita Bhandari, a 19 year old receptionist of a tourist resort allegedly by the owner of the resort who is son of an influential ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader, has taken three days remand of all the three accused in the case, today. The SIT is expected to interrogate the trio and take them to the scene of the crime to recreate the sequence of events. The resort is situated in Laxman Jhula area of Rishikesh under Yamkeshwar area of Pauri Garhwal district.
Following uproar over the murder at the resort at the national and international levels and alleged involvement of ruling BJP leaders in the case, the party has been on the backfoot. Meanwhile, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami today went to Doab Shrikot village in Pauri Garhwal district near Srinagar to meet the family of the deceased girl. He assured the family members of state government’s unstinted support. He said that strict action will be taken against all the culprits and the case will be taken up in the fast track court to give speedy justice to the aggrieved family.
Ankita Bhandari hailing from Pauri Garhwal district had joined the resort on September 3, 2022 and was being pressurised to provide ‘Special services” to some clients which she refused. Her refusal infuriated the owner who took her to Chilla barrage along with his two accomplices and after consuming liquor again had a spat with the girl who wanted to quit her job. It was alleged that Ankita Bhandari on being provoked snatched the mobile phone of Pulkit Arya and threw it in Chilla canal. The three allegedly beat her up and threw her in the fast flowing canal drowning her on the night of September 18, 2022.
The three accused namely Pulkit Arya, son of Vinod Arya, a senior BJP and RSS leader who enjoyed a ministerial rank position in previous Trivendra Singh Rawat government of Uttarakhand, Saurab Bhaskar, a friend of Pulkit Arya and Ankit, manager of the resort were questioned by the SIT officers.
The police today recovered a mobile phone from Chilla canal which is believed to be belonging to Pulkit Arya or Ankita Bhandari. A forensic examination of the mobile phone and call details of these accused are being evaluated. Uttarakhand police also arrested Vaibhav Pratap Singh, a former ‘patwari’ of the area who was allegedly hand in glove with the accused Pulkit Arya. He went on leave a day after the murder.
On the other hand ,Pushpdeep, a friend of the deceased Ankita Bhandari who played a stellar role in highlighting the case in social media arrived from his native place of J&K to depose before the Uttarakhand police. Pushpdeep hailing from Kalyanpur village near Nagri in Kathua district of J&K was questioned for around seven hours by the police officials on Thursday.
Pushpdeep who was friendly and close to Ankita Bhandari informed the police about all the chats, voice recordings and call details of his communication with Ankita Bhandari and all three accused. He said that he got friendly with Ankita Bhandari during lockdown period and used to communicate almost daily with her. He was instrumental in getting her a job in “Vantara” resort through an advertisement on internet.
Ankita Bhandari who was desperate to find a job joined the resort on September 3, 2022 but soon realised that something was wrong with the going ons’in the resort. She also confided that she was being pressurised to give ‘Special service’ to a VIP guest suppose to visit the resort in the coming days. She reportedly told everything to Pushpdeep and she was crying. She had decided to quit the job next morning. On the fateful night , Ankita Bhandari told Pushpdeep that she is going out with three of them and would call him after her return but she never returned. Meanwhile Pushpdeep frantically tried calling her but her phone remained off while Pulkit Arya and his cronies tried to mislead him by giving different stories about her. But an alarmed Pushpdeep smelling something bad informed the family of Ankita Bhandari and few journalists who took up the issue of her disappearance. The father of Ankita Bhandari went from pillar to post requesting the revenue police officials to register a case but no one listened. Later, following a hue and cry in the social media the case was handed over to the regular Rishikesh police which cracked the mystery and her disappearance within 24 hours.
Interestingly, the ruling BJP which had been at the receiving end following the murder case involving it’s leaders, it has also decided to hold prayer meetings across the state to pay homage to the deceased girl and to show solidarity with the bereaved family.
On the other hand, a large number of social and political organisations have given a call for a state wide strike on October 2, 2022 against the murders of Ankita Bhandari and dalit bridegroom Jagdish Chander who was killed in Almora for marrying a girl belonging to upper caste.
The organisations which have joined hands for the strike are namely Akhil Garhwal Sabha, Yuva Shakti Sangathan, Studente Federation of India (SFI), Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti, Rajya Andolankari Manch, Jansamvad samiti, Rajkiya Pensioners Sangathan, Chetna Andolan, Uttarakhand Karnti Dal (UKD), Uttarakhand Mahila Manch,Dhaad, Congress, CPI, CPM, CPI(ML) AAP and many others.