Several thousand people on Sunday joined the funeral procession of the 19-year-old Uttarakhand receptionist whose alleged murder had led to the arrest of a BJP leader’s son under public pressure.
Her last rites were performed in the evening on the banks of the River Alaknanda at Srinagar, Pauri Garhwal district, after over 24 hours of deadlock.
Over 10,000 people had sat on dharna at the gates of the mortuary since Saturday afternoon, alleging the authorities might tamper with the post-mortem report to let off accused Pulkit Arya, son of BJP leader Vinod Arya. They had demanded a fresh post-mortem before cremation and Rs 1 crore and a job for the family.
The woman, who worked at a resort owned by the Aryas, was allegedly thrown into a canal on September 18 for refusing to join a prostitution racket and threatening to expose it.
Pulkit was arrested only on September 22, for suspected kidnapping, under immense public pressure and allegedly confessed to murder in custody.
The woman’s body was fished out of the Shakti Chilla Canal, 20km from the resort, on the morning of September 24, Saturday. It underwent an autopsy the same afternoon but the public at large and her family refused to cremate her, alleging possible foul play in the post-mortem report.
On Sunday morning, her father questioned the role the government and police had played from the start, saying they had for four days ignored his requests for a probe into his daughter’s disappearance.
“However, all those leaders and officers who had ignored me promptly reached AIIMS, Rishkesh, while her post-mortem was in progress. We don’t want to cremate our daughter before a second post-mortem is done,” he said.
“The government hurriedly demolished the room at the resort where my daughter stayed,” the father added, suggesting deliberate destruction of evidence.
In the afternoon, however, the father said chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami had called him and given assurances. The father said he was ready for the cremation, but the crowd of protesters still resisted, claiming the police had intimidated the family.
The father said Dhami had said a detailed autopsy report would be presented in court on Monday and “agreed to our demands”. He appealed around 4.30pm to the protesters to allow the funeral.
The body was taken out of the mortuary in an ambulance, which took two hours to cover the 4km to the riverbank, with thousands joining the journey.
The state DGP had on Saturday denied that the woman’s room had been demolished when the police pulled down some allegedly illegal structures at the resort.
Shekhar Chandra Suyal, additional superintendent of police, Pauri, on Sunday denied any destruction of evidence.
Along with Pulkit, resort manager Saurabh Bhaskar and assistant manager Ankit Gupta too have been arrested.