‘Ankita’s father to blame’: RSS member’s Facebook post provokes outrage; FIR filed

Updated on Sep 28, 2022 08:19 PM IST

Sanjay, RSS prachar pramukh in Uttarakhand, said the RSS condemned Vipin Kandwal’s now-deleted remark on Facebook. He added that Vipin Karnwal had also apologised for his post

In one of the many protests organised to seek justice for Ankita Bhandari, people blocked the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway at Srinagar in Pauri Garhwal district on Sunday, Sept. 25. (PTI)
In one of the many protests organised to seek justice for Ankita Bhandari, people blocked the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway at Srinagar in Pauri Garhwal district on Sunday, Sept. 25. (PTI)
ByAmit Bathla

DEHRADUN: A first information report (FIR) has been filed against a local Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) member over a Facebook post that appeared to blame Ankita Bhandari’s family, particularly her father and brother, for her death, the Dehradun Police said on Wednesday

In the now-deleted post on why he didn’t join the protests to seek justice for the 19-year-old, Vipin Karnwal described her father as the biggest culprit in the tragic turn of events for allowing his daughter to work at a resort in a forest that was known for debauchery.

It was like putting raw milk in front of “male cats”, Vipin Karnwal said.

Ankita Bhandari was found dead in Chilla canal in Rishikesh on September 24, six days after she went missing on September 18. The 19-year-old had started working as a receptionist at Vanantara Resort in Uttarakhand’s Pauri district on August 28, her first job to support her family and her ambitions.

She was killed much before she could get her first salary.

The area revenue police officers initially sat tight on her family’s complaint that she was missing, allegedly under pressure from the resort owner Pulkit Arya, son of the now-expelled BJP leader and former minister Vinod Arya. The state police moved into action after public outrage over the case, both on social media and across the state after it turned out that Ankita went missing after she resisted an alleged attempt by Pulkit to push her into prostitution.

Pulkit Arya and two other resort employees were arrested, and his father was expelled from the party.

It was against this backdrop that Vipin Karnwal put out his post on Facebook on Monday, September 26, according to the police complaint filed against him. In this, he also referred offensively to Ankita’s family living off their daughter’s earnings.

Police said an FIR has been registered against Vipin Karnwal, who described himself as a member of the RSS on his Facebook page.

Vijay Pal Singh Rawat, who filed the case against him, said the statement promotes enmity in the society and has hurt the sentiments of the people of Uttarakhand.

The FIR was registered under sections 153A (promoting enmity among religious groups), 505-2 (statement conducing to public mischief in an assembly engaged in the performance of religious worship), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and 66 of the IT Act, 2000 at Raiwala police station, a police officer said.

Raiwala police station SHO Bhuwan Chand Pujari couldn’t be contacted for his remarks. Another police officer Rajiv Kumar informed that he was in the high court for an official matter.

Vipin Karnwal’s Facebook post also upset the Uttarakhand women’s commission.

Kusum Kandwal, commission chairperson said: “We had taken cognisance of the matter and issued a notice to the RSS leader who in its reply has apologised for his remarks.”

Congress leader Bhuwan Chandra Kapri said on the one hand, the BJP leader’s son committed the act, and the RSS leader on the other made objectionable remarks against the victim’s family. “It shows the mentality of the RSS leader and he is trying to malign the image of the deceased victim woman and her family.”

Sanjay (who uses his first name only), RSS Prachar Pramukh, Uttarakhand, condemned Vipin Kandwal’s remarks. “We condemn the statement made on Facebook. The RSS member and former Haridwar Vibagh Prachar Pramukh has already issued an apology in this matter”.

Vipin Karnwal told a news channel: “I made those remarks after watching a video in which a woman alleged that the woman receptionist’s father took the money. I was in pain about this fact. I thought now the woman won’t get justice. Through the Facebook post, I wanted to put across two messages. First, the victim’s father should not have done this if he had, so that the accused shouldn’t be spared. Secondly, the family should have been aware of the resort that has a history of debauchery and not sent their daughter to the resort for the job.”

He added, “If anybody has perceived my statement in a wrong manner, I apologise to those whose sentiments have been hurt.”

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