Ankita Bhandari died after refusing to become prostitute, CM destroyed evidence: Rahul Gandhi

“The only reason that she is dead is that she refused to become a prostitute”, senior Congress leader and MP Rahul Gandhi claimed Tuesday, while speaking on the murder of 19-year-old Ankita Bhandari, an incident that has led to statewide protests in Uttarakhand.

Bhandari’s body was recovered from a canal on Saturday, six days after she allegedly went missing from a resort owned by a former BJP minister’s son in the Laxman Jhula area of Uttarakhand.

Gandhi, who was in Kerala’s Malappuram district on Tuesday as part of the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, alleged that a BJP leader’s son who owned the hotel was forcing Bhandari to become a prostitute. “They were offering her Rs 10,000-15,000 to become a prostitute. When she refused to become one, she was found dead in a lake,” Gandhi alleged.

Gandhi added that there were messages on the victim’s WhatsApp saying she refused to “become a prostitute”.

Slamming the BJP government in Uttarakhand over inaction in the case, Gandhi alleged, “The CM destroyed the evidence in the case by destroying the hotel so that nobody could ever find out what had happened.”

“Women are second-class citizens for the BJP and India can never progress with this ideology. How can you talk about the future of this country if you can’t respect our women?” Gandhi said, adding, “The BJP will do anything to get to power. And once they get it, they will do anything to stay in power.”

At the end of his speech, the Congress leader requested the gathering to stand in silence for 1 minute “in memory of what the girl suffered”.

The case so far

The resort Bhandari worked in was owned by Pulkit Arya, the son of former Uttarakhand BJP minister Vinod Arya and the main accused in the teenager’s murder case. The BJP has expelled Vinod Arya from the party over the incident. Bhandari had been under pressure from Pulkit Arya — who was arrested on Friday with resort manager Saurabh Bhaskar and assistant manager Ankit Gupta and sent to 14 days judicial custody — to provide “special services” to guests, Director General of Police Ashok Kumar said earlier.

A provisional postmortem report of Bhandari has confirmed the cause of death was drowning and said there were antemortem injuries (injuries before death) on her body, suggestive of blunt force trauma. Although the family  had said they were not satisfied with the provisional report and demanded a case in a fast-track court, later in the day, the family agreed to the cremation.

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