Ankita Bhandari was cremated on Sunday evening, after a day of protests across Uttarakhand. Ankita, a 19-year-old receptionist, was cremated after being allegedly murdered by a BJP leader’s son. Thousands of people attended the cremation from all over the state. For several hours, protesters blocked the Rishikesh-Badrinath National Highway. Crowds gathered in front of the mortuary and the police station. However, after Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami promised justice, protesters lifted an eight-hour blockade of a key highway.
She was cremated on the banks of the Alaknanda at Shrinagar around 6.30 pm in the presence of Commissioner, Garhwal, Sushil Kumar and Pauri District Magistrate Vijay Kumar Jogdande, reports PTI.
Virendra Bhandari, the deceased girl’s father, questioned the government’s action in demolishing the resort where she worked, calling it “evidence destruction” in the murder case. “The police’s bulldozer action tainted the evidence.” In addition, we are dissatisfied with our daughter’s post-mortem report. I also demand that the accused be tried as soon as possible. Only after all of this will we cremate our daughter,” Bhandari told the media.
The police claimed that no stone had been left unturned in their investigation and that the accused would face the “harshest punishment,” as per a report by The Hindu.
Ankita Bhandari’s family refused to perform her final rites until they received the final post-mortem report. According to the preliminary report of an autopsy performed at AIIMS Rishikesh, she drowned, but she had antemortem injuries (injuries before death) on her body, reports PTI.
A message from the chief minister stating that the SIT was doing its job and that the murderers would face the appropriate punishment helped persuade the woman’s relatives to finally cremate her.
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Protesters demanding justice for Bhandari sat on a dharna on the Rishikesh-Badrinath national highway in Uttarakhand’s Srinagar earlier on Sunday. The blockade lasted nearly eight hours, causing a nine-kilometer traffic jam.
Bhandari’s body was found in the Cheela canal close to Rishikesh on Saturday, six days after her parents discovered her missing from her room. Her employer is accused of murdering her.
The woman worked at the Vanantara resort in the Yamkeshwar block of Pauri district, which is owned by Haridwar BJP leader Vinod Arya’s son Pulkit Arya. Pulkit and two other employees have been arrested in connection with the case.
As word of the murder spread, violent protests erupted in the resort’s vicinity, with locals breaking glass panes and attempting to torch a pickle factory on its premises. Earlier, the administration began demolishing the structure, prompting critics to claim that some evidence may have been destroyed.
(With Inputs From Agencies)