Ankita Bhandari murder: Gangster Act invoked against all 3 accused

Even as a Special Investigation Team (SIT) continues its probe, the Uttarakhand Police invoked the Gangster Act against the three accused in the Ankita Bhandari murder case.

Under arrest, the three accused — former BJP leader and state minister Vinod Arya’s son Pulkit Arya, resort manager Saurabh Bhaskar, and assistant manager Ankit Gupta — have already been booked under Sections 302 (murder), 365 (kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person), and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offense or giving false information to screen offender) of the IPC.

According to the FIR, Pulkit was the kingpin and earned money by indulging in illegal activities along with Gupta and Bhaskar in the resort and its surrounding areas.

The FIR also states that the accused disturbed public peace and order by committing heinous crimes in the area.

Uttarakhand DGP Ashok Kumar had earlier said the three will also be booked under the Gangster Act. He said Pulkit has a separate case registered against him at Haridwar Kotwali for allegedly cheating in the Uttarakhand Ayurveda Pre-Medical Test (UAPMT) in 2016. The cheating case is sub-judice.

On September 18, Bhandari, who was working as a receptionist at Pulkit’s Vanantra Resort, was allegedly pushed into a canal by him following an altercation.

Police have confirmed they have found evidence suggesting the three accused were allegedly pressuring Bhandari to provide “special services” to some of the guests and killed her when she resisted. Her body was recovered from a canal on September 24, six days after she went missing from the resort.

According to police officials, Pulkit confessed to having pushed Bhandari into the canal and the body was recovered from the spot he disclosed.

The murder caused a series of protests in the state and even in other parts of the country.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami has promised no one would be spared and that strict action would be taken against the accused. He also formed an SIT headed by Deputy Inspector General (DIG) P Renuka Devi to probe the case.

Meanwhile, a section of a gooseberry processing unit owned by Pulkit caught fire on Sunday. Police and fire department officials said the fire was prime facie caused due to short circuit in the building’s inverter fitting.

No evidence related to the case was affected, the officials added.

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