Who knew it would be her first and last job, says the aunt of a murdered 19-year-old girl whose body was recovered from Cheela Canal in Rishikesh on Saturday, sparking anger among locals who attacked her suspected killers and vandalized the resort where she worked.
The girl worked as a receptionist at a resort in Bhogpur and was murdered for allegedly refusing to provide ‘special services’ to guests. Resort owner Pulkit Arya, the main defendant in the case and son of expelled BJP leader Vinod Arya, and two of his employees have been arrested for allegedly killing her.
As public anger boils over the state and beyond over the girl’s murder, the victim’s family, loved ones and scores of women gathered outside AIIMS, Rishikesh, where an autopsy was performed on the body. Her family and loved ones remember the 19-year-old as a brilliant student and a disciplined girl.
Trying to hold back tears, the girl’s aunt said, “She was a deserving student who got 88% in class 12. She was a disciplined and loving girl.
After graduation, the 19-year-old, who cannot be legally identified, took a degree in hotel management and was told about the vacancy at the resort near Rishikesh.
“Who knew it would be her first and also her last job,” said another aunt, speaking to News18, adding that her niece was her parents’ youngest child. Her older brother works in Delhi and the family manages with limited resources at home.
“My brother is a small farmer. The suffering of the family forced the girl to work and earn a living,” said the victim’s aunt. Although he dreams of a great career, the 19-year-old opted for the receptionist job due to the financial situation at home.
She joined the station on September 1 and was killed before she even saw her first paycheck.
Killed for refusing to provide “special services”
Uttarakhand Police Chief Ashok Kumar told media on Saturday that the 19-year-old receptionist was being pressured by the resort owner to provide “special services” to customers.
A Facebook friend of the receptionist reportedly said her friend was killed because she refused to have sex with guests as demanded by the resort owner. Before her body was found, the girl was reported missing by her parents after they could not find her in her bedroom on Monday morning.
The Facebook friend reportedly said the girl called him the night she was killed to tell him she was in trouble. According to reports, the victim had told her friend that the resort owner and managers were mounting pressure on her to have sex with guests visiting the resort.
After 8:30 p.m., his phone became unreachable. When after repeated attempts her Facebook friend was unable to connect to her, he called Pulkit Arya, the owner of the resort, who said she had gone to sleep in her room. The next day, when he allegedly called Arya again, his phone was off. The friend then called Ankit, the resort manager, who said she was at the gym. He then spoke to the resort manager who said he had not seen the girl that day.
Resort owner Pulkit Arya, the facility’s manager and deputy manager were arrested on Friday and taken into custody for 14 days.
Arya had faced legal action in 2016 for being admitted to the Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) course by allegedly using “evil means”. He had also gotten into trouble for breaching the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown while accompanying controversial MP Amanmani Tripathi.
The anger of the inhabitants
Pulkit Arya and the other two defendants were attacked by an angry mob in a police car as they were taken to a court in Kotdwar on Friday. The mob smashed the car windows and brutalized the three men. Some women who were part of the crowd demanded that the accused be hanged.
Residents of Bhogpur, where the resort is located, threw rocks at the building and smashed its windows in protest. In an overnight action, authorities began demolishing the complex, claiming it had been built illegally.
Reports said a pickle factory near the Arya-owned resort caught fire on Saturday, raising doubts whether it was an attempt by the accused killer to destroy evidence.
With the arrest of the son of a BJP leader, the case took a political turn, with the opposition Congress staging protests and alleging women were unsafe in BJP-ruled Uttarakhand . CCP Chairman Karan Mahra said the girl disappeared on September 18 and the FIR was filed four days later. “It shows that the state government is not serious in its actions. Women are not safe in Uttarakhand,” Mahra said.
“The actions taken by the state government are only eye drops. The complex was only partially demolished. It may also be an attempt to destroy evidence,” the congress leader said. from Pradesh, Garima Dhasauni.
Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, who is believed to be in the running for the post of Congress Speaker, has expressed his grief over the killing of the resort employee and demanded a speedy investigation by the state government. He described the incident as “very condemnable and sad”.
Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami ordered an SIT, led by DIG P Renuka Devi, to investigate the girl’s murder.
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