SIT Formed to Probe Uttarakhand Receptionist Murder; BJP Leader's Son Named as Accused

According to the police's preliminary probe, Pulkit Arya, the son of senior BJP leader Vinod Arya, allegedly killed a 19-year-old woman who worked as a receptionist at the resort he runs near Rishikesh.

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New Delhi: A day after Uttarakhand Police arrested senior Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) leader Vinod Arya’s son and two others in connection with the murder of a 19-year-old woman in Pauri district, the state government on Saturday, September 24, constituted a special investigation team (SIT) to probe into the case, Indian Express reported.

The body of the deceased Ankita Bhandari was also recovered from the Chilla canal in Rishikesh.

Taking to Twitter, chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami on Saturday morning wrote, “The body of daughter Ankita was recovered this morning. My heart is deeply pained by this heartbreaking incident. In order to ensure the harshest punishment for the culprits, an SIT has been formed under the leadership of Deputy Inspector General of Police P. Renuka Devi ji and ordered an in-depth investigation of this serious matter.”

On Friday, Pulkit Arya, the son of Vinod Arya, was arrested in connection with the murder of Bhandari who had worked as a receptionist at a resort run by Pulkit in the Yamkeshwar block of Pauri district. Police said Pulkit and two of his staff members had already confessed to the crime.

According to the police, Pulkit had lodged a missing complaint about the woman along with her family. She had gone missing for five days. The police’s preliminary investigation revealed that he had allegedly killed her with the help of two of his staff members. The resort, Vanantra, is in the Yamkeshwar area, about 10 km from the main town Rishikesh.

Vinod Arya is a senior BJP leader from Haridwar and was a former chairman of the Uttarakhand Mati Kala Board. Vinod has been granted a state minister’s rank but holds no post in the government.

According to NDTV, the state police chief had said, “The initial FIR was lodged by the resort owner (Pulkit Arya) and the woman’s family. In Uttarakhand, we have a system of the patwari (land revenue official) registering first information reports (FIRs) where the area doesn’t have regular police stations.”

Pulkit, the resort owner, manager Saurabh Bhaskar, and assistant manager Ankit Gupta were arrested after they had confessed to have killed the missing girl and thrown her body into the Cheela Canal, Pauri Additional Superintendent of Police Shekhar Chandra Suyal told PTI.

“Initially, they tried to mislead the police, but when interrogated sternly they confessed to the crime,” the ASP had said.

A team had been sent to search for the girl’s body in the canal, he had said, adding the case was cracked within 24 hours of being transferred from the revenue police to regular police.

The three accused were sent to 14-day judicial custody by a Kotdwar court, police said. A missing complaint had been lodged at a revenue police outpost after the woman was not found in her room by her parents on Monday morning.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Congress hit out at the Pushkar Singh Dhami government, stating that the cops were slow “because Vinod Arya is with the RSS”.

“It’s horrific. When the girl went missing on September 18, why did the police register the FIR on September 21? Till when will this brazen misuse of power by BJP and RSS leaders continue?” questioned state Congress spokesperson Garima Mehra Dasauni, according to NDTV.

Dhami had said his government promised “harshest action” against those involved in the crime. “This is a very sad incident, a very heinous crime. The police have done all the work regarding the arrest. The harshest action will be taken. Whoever the culprit is, will not be spared,” the news channel had quoted him as saying.

Uttarakhand authorities on Saturday demolished the resort, which was allegedly constructed illegally by Pulkit, according to Indian Express.

(With PTI inputs)