Rahul blasts BJP over Uttarakhand teen’s murder: ‘They view women as objects’
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said the only reason the teenager lost her life is because she refused to “become a prostitute”.
Congress MP Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday launched a sharp attack on the BJP-ruled government in Uttarakhand over the alleged murder of a 19-year-old woman who was forced to offer sexual favours at a resort owned by the son of now-sacked BJP leader.
During his address at a gathering in Kerala for the grand old party's ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, Gandhi said the only reason the teenager lost her life is because she refused to “become a prostitute”.
The former Congress president further said that the ideology of the BJP and its parent outfit, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) is to view women as “objects and second-class citizens”. Gandhi called the teenager's murder, the most “disgusting and shameful incident”.
“Imagine a BJP leader owns a hotel, his son is forcing a woman to become a prostitute. There are messages on her WhatsApp where she is saying ‘I refuse to become a prostitute’. They (BJP) are offering her ₹10,000 to ₹15,000 to become a prostitute. And… when this sister of ours refused to become a prostitute, she was found dead in a lake,” the Congress MP told the gathering.
“And what did the chief minister of the state do? He is destroying the evidence in the case by destroying the hotel so that nobody can find out what happened. This, brothers and sisters, is the ideology of the BJP.”
Gandhi said a country that views its women as second-class citizens is “doomed to failure”.
The teenager's body was found from Chilla canal near Rishikesh early on Saturday, six days after her parents found her missing from her room. She worked as a receptionist at the Vanantara resort in Pauri Garhwal district owned by now-expelled BJP leader and former Uttarakhand minister Vinod Arya's son Pulkit Arya. Pulkit and two of his employees have so far been arrested in the case that has triggered a massive uproar across the hill state.
Earlier, Uttarakhand police commissioner Ashok Kumar said the teenager was being pressured by the resort owner to provide “special services” to guests. A WhatsApp chat between the victim and her friend, which has now been shared widely, purportedly reveals that the 19-year-old was being pressued to give “extra service” to the “VIP guests” at the venue.
"They are bent on turning me into a prostitute,” said one of the texts, in Hindi.
HT could not independently verify the authenticity of the texts.
Meanwhile, a former employee of the resort spoke with news agency ANI and accused Pulkit of misbehaving and verbally abusing female staff.
A preliminary post-mortem report has shown the teenager was drowned. It also found evidence of antemortem injuries that she received before demise.
Angry locals have set a property owned by Pulkit on fire, while earlier a part of the resort was demolished on the instruction of chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been set up, and PR Devi who is leading the team said on Monday that despite the demolition, all “evidence is safe”.
Her remarks came after the teenager's family, critics and activists said the move might have removed crucial evidence from the spot.
The victim's family initially did not allow the cremation, and only agreed to do so after the state government promised a “fair investigation”. The teenager's last rites were conducted at the ITI ghat in Pauri Garhwal. However, in a widely circulated video on social media, her mother could be heard saying that she wanted to see her daughter “one last time”, but was “deceived” by the authorities.