The son of senior BJP leader Vinod Arya, Pulkit Arya, has been arrested for the murder of a 19-year-old woman who worked as a receptionist at a resort he owns near Rishikesh in Pauri district. He had reported her missing along with her family on Monday, but police said it was later found he had killed her along with two associates. These two were also arrested.
The woman’s family had already suspected Pulkit Arya’s role, particularly because he did not support the investigation.
The body has yet to be found – the search was conducted in a water canal near the resort – and police are investigating the motive amid allegations of inaction “because the defendant’s father is a member of the state’s ruling BJP and RSS party”.
Police acted swiftly when the news went viral on social media yesterday and pointed fingers at Pulkit Arya, whose father Vinod Arya currently holds the rank of Minister of State without a government post. Vinod Arya formerly served as Minister and remained Chairman of the Uttarakhand Mati Kala Board, a government organization promoting pottery. Pulkit’s brother Ankit Arya is also a BJP leader.
State Police Chief Ashok Kumar tried to explain: “The area where this resort, Vanantra, is located does not fall under the regular police force. We have a system of patwari (Land Revenue Official) who registers FIRs in such areas. He has registered a “missing person” FIR filed by the resort owner himself.” The resort is located approximately 10km from the capital Rishikesh.
“Yesterday the district magistrate referred the case to us and we processed it within 24 hours. The defendant turned out to be the owner of the resort along with two other defendants. Further investigations are ongoing,” said the police chief.
There are allegations that the teenager was forced into prostitution, but the police have not said so.
When the men were arrested today, protesting locals surrounded the police vehicle and attacked them before police were able to take them away.
The opposition congress said the police were slow “because of its links with the RSS-BJP”. “It’s appalling. When the girl disappeared on September 18th, why did the police register the FIR on September 21st?” said State Congress Speaker Garima Mehra Dasauni, “Until when will this brazen abuse of power by BJP and RSS leaders continue?”
Prime Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami promised “the toughest action” regardless of who is involved. “This is a very sad incident, a very heinous crime. The police did all the work regarding the arrest. The toughest measures will be taken. Whoever is at fault will not be spared,” he told reporters.
In addition to Pulkit Arya, resort manager Saurabh Bhaskar and deputy manager Ankit Gupta were also arrested. “Initially they tried to mislead the police, but when they were severely interrogated, they confessed to the crime,” added a police officer from Pauri.