Inhuman turn in Bhandari Murder Case: Rishikesh Diary

Victim's body has been allegedly cremated without the permission of the family

Ankita Bhandari’s body was recovered from Cheela canal near Rishikesh early on Saturday. Bhandari worked at the Vanantara resort in Pauri Garhwal district owned by now-expelled Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Vinod Arya’s son Pulkit Arya. Pulkit and two other employees have been arrested in the case that has sparked massive outrage across the hilly state.

In a widely circulated video on social media, the mother can be seen arguing with Srinagar SDM Ajay Veer Singh, asking him, “How could they take my daughter without my consent,”.  She was waiting to see her daughter “one last time” but the authorities “deceived” her.

“They are deceiving me again and again. How could they cremate my daughter without my consent,” she alleged. “Does any cremation take place this late?”

Around 6 pm on Sunday, Bhandari’s last rites were conducted at the ITI ghat in Pauri Garhwal, hours after her family refused to cremate her until they get the final autopsy details.

The cremation was done after the police managed to take out her body from the mortuary of Pauri’s Srinagar medical college, where her body was kept after the post-mortem examination on Saturday, amid protests by local residents. Police took help of the Bhandari’s father, who told the crowd that the administration has assured of strict action against the accused.

In the video, “We were conveyed by the authorities that the last rites will take place on Monday. But they eventually put the body in the ambulance and took it for cremation by deceiving us,” another family member can be heard saying in the video.

The father was “badgered” to cremate the body “hurriedly” said the family.

When contacted, Srinagar SDM said he would talk later as he was in a meeting. On Sunday, the SDM told HT that the family was ready for the last rites but was “confused and under pressure” from the public. “But we persuaded the family and protesters to take the body to the ghat for cremation,” he had said.

The woman’s family has also raised suspicion over the government’s decision to hurriedly bulldoze parts of the resort owned by prime accused Pulkit Arya, alleging if it was done “deliberately” to “destroy the evidence” at the crime scene.