The body of Ankita Bhandari, a 19-year-old receptionist who went missing on the premises of a private resort owned by BJP leader's son Pulkit Arya, was found near Chilla power house in Uttarakhand's Rishikesh on Saturday.
Three people, including Pulkit Arya, were arrested in the case on Friday, after which civic authorities carried out demolition at the resort overnight following the orders of Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami.
According to police, the accused have confessed that they pushed Ankita Bhandari into a canal near the resort after a personal dispute, following which she drowned.
The accused have been identified as the resort owner Pulkit Arya, assistant manager Ankit Gupta, and manager Saurabh Bhaskar. The FIR was initially registered under sections related to kidnapping, but Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code was added after the confession. All three are currently in judicial custody.
There have been allegations that the girl was being forced into wrongful activities, but police said the claim hasn't been established yet.
"Prime facie, it appears that Ankita Bhandari was being asked to give special services to Ankit Arya [Pulkit Arya's brother]. Whether there was a prostitution racket or it is a standalone case of Ankita being forced to offer services to Ankit is not clear yet," DGP Ashok Kumar told India Today, adding that no other girl is reported missing from the resort.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, in a tweet, said that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) has been formed, which will be headed by DIGP Renuka Devi.
— Pushkar Singh Dhami (@pushkardhami) September 24, 2022
"In order to give the harshest punishment to the culprits, a SIT has been formed under the leadership of Deputy Inspector General of Police P Renuka Devi and have ordered an in-depth investigation into the matter," CM Dhami said.
"Bulldozer action has been taken against the illegally built resort of the accused last night. It is our resolve that the culprits of this heinous crime will not be spared," he added.
Amid protests calling for stern action against Pulkit Arya, the BJP has expelled Vinod Arya and Ankit Arya from the party.
Meanwhile, Ankita Bhandari's father has alleged that she was molested by the prime accused, and the audio of the incident had been recorded.
Hours after the body was recovered from a canal, angry protesters set fire to the Vanatara resort.
BJP MLA Renu Bisht was also at the receiving end of protests, as her car was vandalised and had to be escorted away by the cops.
#WATCH | Rishikesh, Uttarakhand: Locals protested against BJP MLA Renu Bisht & vandalised her car as they agitated over Ankita Bhandari murder case.The MLA was escorted away by Police— ANI (@ANI) September 24, 2022
3 accused,incl BJP leader Vinod Arya's son Pulkit Arya, arrested in connection with the matter pic.twitter.com/RExf8pExAS
Yesterday, locals pelted stones at the resort owned by the accused, and attempted to thrash him and 2 others who were being taken into police custody.
WHAT'S THE CASE?
Senior BJP leader Vinod Arya's son, Pulkit Arya, was arrested for the murder of Ankita Bhandari, who worked as a receptionist at his resort. He had reported her missing, as did her family, but police said it later turned out that Arya and his two staff members had killed her.
The prime accused, Pulkit Arya, and the girl's family had filed a missing persons complaint with the local revenue official. Later, the Uttarakhand Police took over the case, and an FIR was registered on September 22. Within 24 hours, all three accused were arrested, the cops had said.