Police on Saturday found in a Rishikesh canal the body of a 19-year-old who was allegedly killed by a BJP leader’s son for resisting his attempts to push her into prostitution.
The teenager had been missing since September 18 from Vananjana Resort in Paudi Garhwal, where she had started work as a receptionist just 27 days earlier. The resort is owned by Pulkit Arya, son of BJP leader Vinod Arya who was chairman of the Mati Kala Board in Uttarakhand with the status of a minister.
His elder son, Ankit, was appointed vice-president of the state’s OBC commission in January. Pulkit was arrested on Thursday following protests in Uttarakhand amid allegations that police in the BJP-ruled state ignored the complaints of the girl’s father, a poor farmer. The protests began spreading in Dehradun, Rishikesh and Pauri Garhwal when the father was seen standing helplessly outside Laxman Jhula police station on September 22 as Vinod Arya sat inside sipping tea.
The police then arrested Pulkit, resort manager Surabh Bhaskar and assistant manager Ankit Gupta. Four days later, they started the search for the body. The teen’s friend had told reporters on Thursday: “She had told me on WhatsApp on the evening of September 18 that Pulkit had tried to force himself on her.... “She had told me earlier that the owner of the resort wanted her to go to the room of a guest to ‘please him’.” Ashok Kumar, the director-general of police, said: “According to the initial inquiry, the accused persons took the victim towards Rishikesh at 8.30pm on September 18. Two of them were on a motorcycle and two on a scooty. They threw the victim into the Shakti Chilla Canal in Rishikesh from a bridge after an argument…. They have admitted to their crime.”
Many of the protesters alleged the police had tried to destroy evidence. Arvind Singh, a youth protesting on Saturday at AIIMS, Rishikesh, where the post-mortem was conducted, said: “The police tried to destroy evidence by breaking the victim’s room at the resort with a bulldozer on Saturday morning. Later, someone set ablaze a factory in the resort compound.”
Manveer Singh Chauhan, the media in-charge of the Uttarakhand BJP, said in a media release: “The BJP has suspended Vinod Arya and Ankit Arya, father and brother of Pulkit Arya, after his arrest in the murder case.”Standing with the protesters at the gate of AIIMS, Rishikesh, the victim’s father said: “I had come to the resort along with my daughter on August 28 when she had joined the job. Later, she had told us that Pulkit was not a good person. However, she tried to stay on and work because she had to support the family.”