Uttarakhand authorities looking into resort’s demolition in Ankita Bhandari murder case

The victim’s father alleged while speaking to media persons that the ‘bulldozer action’ had destroyed evidence

September 26, 2022 08:23 pm | Updated 08:23 pm IST - New Delhi

People block the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway in protest against the killing of Ankita Bhandari, at Srinagar in Pauri Garhwal district on September 25.

People block the Rishikesh-Badrinath highway in protest against the killing of Ankita Bhandari, at Srinagar in Pauri Garhwal district on September 25. | Photo Credit: PTI

A day after the father of 19-year-old Ankita Bhandari, who was allegedly murdered by the son of a BJP leader in Uttarakhand, questioned the demolition undertaken at the resort where the victim worked, Pauri Garhwal District Magistrate Vijay Kumar Jogdande told The Hindu that the demolition order had not been sent from his office.

“There are several agencies who can take this action. We are examining who did it,” Mr. Jogdande said.

“The orders may have come from police, Revenue Department, Sub-Divisional Magistrate or from the civic and development authority. After this matter came into my knowledge from the media, I am inquiring about it,” he added.

Shekhar Suyal, Superintendent of Police Kotdwar, said that the police had not ordered the demolition.

Also read: Amid protests by thousands across Uttarakhand, family cremates murder victim

Virendra Bhandari, the victim’s father, had earlier on Sunday refused to cremate his daughter, and alleged while speaking to media persons that the “bulldozer action” had destroyed evidence. Former Uttarakhand Chief Minister Harish Rawat also raised the issue.

Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, on the other hand, lauded the demolition at the resort, which took place at about 2 a.m. Locals shared a video of the demolition by a bulldozer, after which unidentified persons set the resort premises on fire.

“How can you bulldoze a crime scene? It’s supposed to be preserved. How can we not say that it was a conspiracy to save the VIPs who use to get ‘special services’ in the resort that Ankita was being forced to give,” Garima Dasauni, Congress spokesperson for Uttarakhand alleged. Ms. Dasauni said the CM should make it clear whether the bulldozer was deployed to “help the victim or the accused”.

The BJP has expelled the father and elder brother of the main accused from the party. Mr. Dhami also removed the accused’s older brother from the post of nominated Vice-Chairman of the State’s Other Backward Classes Commission. The action came after Uttarakhand Police arrested Pulkit Arya, son of Vinod Arya, who was Minister of State under the previous BJP government headed by Trivendra Singh Rawat, for allegedly murdering Ankita. Two of his aides have also been arrested.

“We have preserved all evidences and investigation is being done by SIT (Special Investigation Team),” Ashok Kumar, Director General of Police, said.

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