100 people arrested for hill murder protest
Over 100 people were arrested on Saturday when they gathered at the gate of the Kotdwar court in Uttarakhand’s Pauri Garhwal district to protest against the three accused in a hotel receptionist’s murder. The accused had been produced there for the first time since their arrest six months ago.
The state police’s special investigation team filed a chargesheet booking Pulkit Arya, the owner of Vanantara Resort and son of now-suspended BJP leader Vinod Arya, and resort employees Saurabh Bhaskar and Ankit Gupta for murdering the 19-year-old receptionist, causing disappearance of evidence, giving false information and human trafficking. The trio had allegedly assaulted the receptionist and thrown her into a canal when she refused to offer sexual favours to a “VIP guest”. They were arrested on September 22.
Jitendra Rawat, additional district public prosecutor, told reporters: “The charge of assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty was dropped against Saurabh and Ankit (manager and deputy manager of the resort). The chargesheet holds Pulkit guilty of this offence along with the other crimes. The court posted the case for March 28.”
“The court rejected the bail pleas of Pulkit and Ankit,” Rawat added. Saurabh’s bail plea was rejected earlier.
The protesters who had gathered outside the court premises demanded the death sentence for the accused and the revelation of the name of the “VIP guest”.
As the police brought Pulkit and the two others to the court of the additional district and sessions judge, Kotdwar, the protesters tried to stop the prison van and chanted slogans against the state’s BJP government.
A police officer who didn’t want to be named said: “The crowd tried to disrupt the police from doing their duty and over 100 were arrested. They will be released in the evening, a few hours after we take the accused persons back to jail.”
Jyoti Rautela, the Mahila Congress president of Uttarakhand, said: “We have come to know that the government is trying to gradually weaken the case so that the accused are released. We don’t doubt that the government is with the killers and not with the daughter of Uttarakhand, who was brutally murdered.”