The Kotdwar Session Court in Pauri Garhwal district of Uttarakhand on Saturday framed charges against the accused in the Ankita Bhandari murder case. The main accused Pulkit Arya — son of a former BJP Minister in the State government led by Trivendra Singh Rawat — was booked for murder, molestation and immoral trafficking along with molestation, while his two friends were charged for murder and hiding the evidences.
The Uttarakhand Police filed the chargesheet in the Bhandari murder case at the Kotdwar court in December 2022. In the 500-page chargesheet, the police recorded the statements of 100 witnesses and presented over 30 documentary evidences.
The court framed charges against Arya under Section 302 (murder), 201 (suppression of evidence), 354 (A) molestation and outraging modesty) the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Immoral Traffic Act. Arya’s friends, Saurabh Bhaskar and Ankit Gupta, were charged under Sections 302, 201 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Immoral Prostitution Act.
Government counsel Jitendra Rawat said that all the three accused refused to accept the allegations levelled against them and pleaded innocence. The court has listed the next hearing on March 28.
“The court had also rejected the bail application of Ankit and Pulkit. Bhaskar’s bail plea was also rejected,” Mr. Rawat added.
Bhandari was allegedly murdered by Pulkit Arya and his aides in September 2022. Pulkit owned a resort in Uttarakhand and is the son of Vinod Arya, former Minister of State under the previous BJP government headed by Trivendra Singh Rawat.
Her body was found from the canal over a week after she went missing. The police had arrested the accused after series of protests. The case, initially registered with Patwari Police was later transferred to the SIT. The accused are in jail since then.
Ankita’s farther had alleged that his daughter was being forced into prostitution by her employers. “She was being forced to give ‘special service’ to a high profile guest,” he alleged.