Friday, December 1, 2023

Ankita Bhandari Murder case: SIT finds two vehicles possibly used in crime, says DIG

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The Uttarakhand Police, which is investigating the horrible Ankita Bhandari murder case, said on Tuesday that the SIT has seized two cars allegedly used in the crime from a resort in Rishikesh where Ankita worked. The SIT, according to DIG P Renuka Devi, will now record the testimony of the women employees of the Vantara Resort, which is owned by the main accused Pulkit Arya, son of expelled BJP politician Vinod Arya.

 “We are analysing all the evidence. A post-mortem report has been received. We will record the statements of women who worked at the resort. Two motorcycles used in the crime have been found. We will apply for police custody of the accused for interrogation, including Ishita, in the resort of the main accused Pulkit Arya,” the DIG told ANI.

The body of Ankita Bhandari, 19, was recovered from the Chilla Canal in Rishikesh on September 24. “It has been found from the CCTV footage that these two vehicles were used by the accused for going to Chilla barrage and coming back,” the DIG said.

The murder case has caused widespread indignation, with protests reported from around the state. Angry residents even set fire to the resort where Ankita worked. Following that, Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami directed officials to maintain peace and order in the state.

Authorities dismantled portions of the resort, claiming that the structures were built unlawfully. However, this conduct aroused concerns that vital evidence in the case could have been corrupted. The police, on the other hand, promised that a forensic team had gathered evidence prior to the destruction.

Aside from Pulkit Arya, two additional persons have been detained after confessing to pushing Ankita into the canal during an incident.

Previously, the SIT told ANI that Ankita Bhandari’s WhatsApp communications were being searched in order to gather evidence.

In the aftermath of Ankita Bhandari’s death, an intervention suit was filed in the Supreme Court on Monday demanding the elimination of a century-old tradition of the Revenue Police System in Uttarakhand.

Uttrakhand journalist Anu Pant filed the intervention application with the help of lawyers Rituparn Uniyal, Abhishek Kumar, Deeksha Saggi, and Nayan Mishra. The intervention application seeks to end a century-old practise of the Revenue Police System in various regions of the state of Uttarakhand, where the Revenue Police’s treatment of crime/offenses has resulted in a law-and-order situation.

The new application was filed in response to the recent unfortunate and distressing incident of the murder of a 19-year-old girl named Ankita Bhandari near Chilla Canal in Rishikesh, Yamkeshwar Block, District Pauri Garhwal, who became a victim of the century-old Revenue Police System in the state of Uttarakhand.

19-year-old Ankita Bhandari joined the job of a receptionist in Vanantra Resort situated at Chilla Road near Rishikesh a month ago and went on missing on September 18 from the resort. Her father, who was not being able to contact and locate his daughter, came to Rishikesh in search of his daughter but that poor man was made to run from pillar to post by the police and revenue authorities, the application said.

“The father immediately after arriving Rishikesh went to Police Station Kotwali Rishikesh from where he was sent to Police Station Laxman Jhula at night. After enquiring about his missing daughter at the Police Station Laxman Jhula the police officials told him that his complaint would be registered by the Patwari concerned as the place from where the daughter went missing falls within the Revenue Police jurisdiction,” the intervention application said.

When the father went to concerned Patwari Choki, he found that the owner of the resort, a suspect in the matter and others were already present and they lodged a missing complaint against unknown persons with the Patwari Chowki, the application said.

The patwari categorically refused to hear grievances and doubts of the victim’s father and misbehaved with him, the applicant said.

Later the suspects were arrested in the matter by the Laxman Jhula police station after the public outrage and the local media’s attention as the District Magistrate, Pauri who vide his Letter dated 21.09.2022, in the late evening, ordered the transfer of investigation from Revenue Police to Regular Police.

“That the incapability of Revenue Authorities in dealing with the heinous crime has been categorically set out from time to time by this Court as well as the Hon’ble High Court. Also, the recent unfortunate and distressing incident of murder of 19-year-old Ankita Bhandari is a textbook example of the failure of the Century-old Revenue Police System prevailing in the State of Uttarakhand leading to massive outrage amongst the public at large,” the application read.

“That the citizens of the State of Uttarakhand are being discriminated in terms of the Criminal Justice System. Further, the people residing in distant places of the State are also eligible for protection and service of Regular Police. Surprisingly, the two-three districts have the advantage of the Regular Police system. This is a categorical violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India and to the concept of Equal Protection of law enshrined under it,” the application said.

The applicant said that the present Revenue Police System prevailing in the State of Uttarakhand is unconstitutional as it deprives the Citizens of Uttarakhand the equal protection of the law as all the Citizens are not been given the same treatment in detection and Prevention, investigation and trial of criminal cases. Therefore, by practising two different police systems by the State of Uttarakhand, the State has gone against the Spirit and essence of the Constitution of India,” the applicant added.

The applicant stated that in light of the preceding facts and the recent unfortunate and distressing incident in the state of Uttarakhand, it has become necessary for the Applicant to approach this Court for indulgence and consideration, and is thus seeking intervention in the ongoing patwari system petition.

The petitioner also asked for permission to intervene so that it could present all of the issues to the Supreme Court from the standpoint of Uttarakhand residents.

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