The Bharatiya Janata Party on Saturday expelled former Uttarakhand minister Vinod Arya, whose son Pulkit Arya was arrested for murdering a woman in the state, PTI reported.
Vinod Arya, a senior party leader from Haridwar, was a former chairperson of Uttarakhand Mati Kala Board with the rank of state minister.
Ankit Arya, brother of Pulkit Arya, was also expelled from the party on the orders of state BJP chief Mahendra Bhatt. The Uttarakhand government also removed Ankit Arya from the post of deputy chairperson of the state’s Other Backward Classes Commission.
The development came after Pulkit Arya’s resort near Rishikesh – where the murder took place – was demolished following his confession that he and two others had killed 19-year-old Ankita Bhandari, who was the resort’s receptionist.
Pulkit Arya, resort manager Saurabh Bhaskar and assistant manager Ankit Gupta had filed a missing report about the woman after her parents could not find her in her room on Monday. As the investigation ensued, Arya and his associates admitted that they had killed Bhandari and thrown her body into a canal.
On Saturday morning, officials of the State Disaster Response Force recovered the body from Chilla Canal in Rishikesh, ANI reported. Family members of the woman have identified the body, the officials said.
Hours after Bhandari’s body was recovered, angry locals set fire to parts of the resort and hurled stones at the building. Following orders from Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami, the civic authorities had bulldozed parts of the resort overnight.
Residents also vandalised Yamkeshwar MLA Renu Bisht’s car in Rishikesh when she was passing by the Chilla canal allegedly over her late response to the murder. The BJP leader was escorted to safety by the police.
Meanwhile, the chief minister said that that a Special Investigation Team headed by Deputy Inspector General P Renuka Devi has been formed to conduct inquiry into the murder case. “No accused will be spared, whoever they may be,” he told ANI.
Text messages of Bhandari to her friend seemed to suggest that she was being forced into prostitution by the accused men, NDTV reported. Pulkit Arya had pressurised her to provide “special services” to guests of the resort, Director General of Police Ashok Kumar said, according to PTI.
On Friday, the three men were sent to judicial custody for 14 days. They have been booked under Section 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence) and Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code.