Uttarakhand murder: Body of teen found, locals set Pulkit Arya’s property afire

Updated on Sep 25, 2022 05:38 AM IST

Pulkit Arya, who is the son of BJP leader and former state minister Vinod Arya, was arrested on Friday for allegedly murdering 19-year-old Ankita Bhandari, who worked as a receptionist at Vanantra Resort in the Laxman Jhula area.

Smoke billows from a factory owned by Pulkit Arya after locals set it on fire, in Pauri Garhwal district.(PTI)
Smoke billows from a factory owned by Pulkit Arya after locals set it on fire, in Pauri Garhwal district.(PTI)
By, Hindustan Times, Dehradun/haridwar/haldwani

Hours after the body of 19-year-old Ankita Bhandari was recovered from a canal in Uttarakhand’s Rishikesh on Saturday, locals set fire to a property owned by main accused Pulkit Arya as outrage over the incident grew.

Police recovered the body of Bhandari, who was reported missing on September 18, from the Chilla canal in Rishikesh. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been formed to probe the case.

Also Read| Uttarakhand: Resort staff shares deets on night before receptionist went missing

Pulkit Arya, who is the son of BJP leader and former state minister Vinod Arya, was arrested on Friday for allegedly murdering Bhandari, who worked as a receptionist at Vanantra Resort in the Laxman Jhula area. Resort manager Saurabh Bhaskar and assistant manager Ankit Gupta have also been arrested in connection with the matter. They have confessed to having pushed the woman into the canal following an altercation, the police said.

On Saturday, Uttarakhand police chief Ashok Kumar revealed that the woman was being pressured by the resort owner to provide “special services” to guests. “Investigation so far based on the questioning of accused, mobile chat history and audio clip shared by the woman with her friends and colleagues, corroborated that she was being pressured for having sexual relations, which she resisted...” The woman’s post-mortem examination has been conducted and the report is awaited, he added.

A WhatsApp chat between the victim and her friend, which has gone viral, purportedly shows that woman was being pressured to provide “extra service” to the “VIP guests” at the resort. “They are bent on turning me into a prostitute,” said one of the texts, in Hindi. HT cannot independently verify the veracity on the texts.

Also Read| 'Pained'- CM Dhami as teen's body found after BJP leader's son held; SIT formed

According to the police, on September 18, Pulkit and the victim entered into an argument at the resort. Around 8pm, the three accused took her out on pretext of sorting out the matter. “On their way back, they stopped at an isolated dark corner for food and drinks, when another argument ensued,” said SSP Pauri Garhwal Yaswant Singh. “During the altercation, the woman threw Pulkit’s phone. The three accused, who were inebriated, threw the woman in the canal and fled the spot.”

The next day, the accused pretended that the woman has gone missing and lodged a missing person’s complaint.

Meanwhile, outrage over the killing escalated as details emerged of her trauma in the days preceding to Bhandari’s death.

Violent protests erupted around the resort owned by Arya, with locals breaking glass panes and some trying to torch a pickle factory on its premises.

The Congress also staged protests across the state. “Many BJP leaders and workers are so drunk with power that they think nobody can touch them and they can do anything and get away with it...,” said Mathura Dutt Joshi, state Congress vice president.

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