A provisional postmortem report of 19-year-old Ankita Bhandari, whose body was recovered from a canal 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, 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.
“There are findings of antemortem injuries on the body, suggestive of blunt force trauma. (The) cause of death in this case is asphyxia consequent upon antemortem drowning. Details of the injuries and other findings will be given in the detailed postmortem report,” the provisional report said.
Meanwhile, the family of Ankita, who worked as a receptionist at the resort, refused to cremate the body. The family said they were not satisfied with the provisional report and demanded a case in a fast-track court. However, later in the day, the family agreed to the cremation. The mortal remains of Ankita were cremated at NIT Ghat near Alakhnanda river in Srinagar, Pauri Garhwal, in the presence of police and administration officials.
“Why did the administration demolish the Vanantra Resort? There would be several clues. I also have a demand that the cremation of my daughter will take place only when the final postmortem report is received. I am not satisfied with the postmortem report so far. The culprits should be given punishment under a fast-track court,” said Ankita’s father Virendra Bhandari.
“I want to say that there might be some alteration in the provisional report and it is dissatisfactory. Only when the final report is received, we will cremate my sister,” said Ankita’s brother Ajay Bhandari.
On Friday, the police arrested three people, including Pulkit Arya, resort owner and son of former Uttarakhand BJP minister Vinod Arya, and said he had confessed to pushing Ankita into the canal after an altercation. The police booked the three for kidnapping, murder and causing the disappearance of evidence.
After Ankita’s body was recovered from the Shakti canal near Chilla powerhouse, it was sent for postmortem at AIIMS Rishikesh by a panel of doctors under video surveillance. The district administration claimed that after the postmortem, the body was sent to Srinagar in Pauri Garhwal district for cremation at the request of the family. During the postmortem, protesters raised slogans with a demand for strict punishment for the accused and justice for Ankita. Some of the protesters attacked the vehicle of local BJP MLA Renu Bisht. Later in the day, the protesters blocked the road outside the AIIMS accusing the police of using force against some of the protestors.
Earlier, the Uttarakhand Director General of Police (DGP) Ashok Kumar informed The Indian Express that the police found evidence suggesting that the accused put pressure on Ankita to provide “special services” to some of the guests and killed her when she resisted. In the WhatsApp chat, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, Ankita mentioned that she was feeling insecure at the resort and suggested that one of the accused asked her to provide “special services” in exchange for Rs 10,000.
Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami also formed a special investigation team (SIT) under Deputy Inspector General (DIG) P Renuka Devi to investigate the case.