Ankita Bhandari Case: Protests for justice enters 7th day, victim’s parents leading the protestors, condemning the arrest of the journalist seeking action in Ankita’s case

Independent journalist Ashutosh Negi, who frequently raised his voice in support of Ankita, was arrest on March 5 by state police, booked under SC/ST Act, sent to 15-day judicial custody

Protests demanding justice for Ankita Bhandari are being taken out in the tranquil streets of Uttarakhand since the past few days. As per media reports, these protests are to demand action against the alleged murders of Ankita. These protests are also sparked up after the shocking arrest of independent journalist and Jago Uttarakhand editor Ashutosh Negi on March 5, 2024 by the Uttarakhand police. The arrest of Negi, a journalist who frequently raised his voice for “justice” to Ankita Bhandari, was based on a complaint lodged by a Pauri Garhwal resident. The complaint alleges that Negi used casteist remarks and issued death threat to a man who belongs to the Scheduled Caste As per the report of Indian Express, Negi has reportedly been booked under Sections of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and sent to 15-day judicial custody. Uttarakhand DGP Abhinav Kumar prvided to IE that Negi’s intentions are “suspected” and that his agenda does not align with seeking justice, but “aims to sow anarchy and discord in society”.     

It is essential to note that Ankita was murdered almost 18 months ago. Ankita Bhandari was a receptionist at Vanantra Resort in Ganga-Bhogpur in Pauri District. She was allegedly murdered by Pulkit Arya, the son of the BJP leader Vinod Arya and owner of the Vanantra Resort, on September 18, 2022. As per reports, Arya had allegedly pushed Ankita into a canal after an altercation had taken against them. The said case had led to outrage across India. Notably, in December 2022, the state police had filed a 500-paged chargesheet against Arya and two other accused, namely Saurabh Bhaskar and Ankit Gupta. In May 2023, it had also been alleged by the parents and some social workers that Ankita was raped before her murder by accused Saurabh Bhaskar. Till now, concrete action is yet to be taken in this case.

Visuals on social media show a group of people holding a demonstration with placards, banners and torches. As per the report of Clarion India, the said video is from the seventh day of the protest. Notably, Ankita’s aged parents can also be seen in the video, leading the protesters, rallying under the banner of “#JusticeForAnkita” to seek a fair probe and trial in the case. As per another local report, Ankita’s parents are currently on an indefinite strike, demanding justice for their daughter.

The video can be viewed here:

Many reports have also surfaced that during the protest, the protesters burnt effigies of the government and blocked the highway, expressing their frustration with the authorities’ handling of the situation. As per the report of Clarion, Ankita’s father spoke to some local journalists present at the protest and lamented the lack of accountability and transparency surrounding Ankita’s case, urging authorities to expedite investigations and ensure that those responsible are held accountable.

Referring to the arrest of Negi, Ankita’s father reportedly stated that Negi’s arrest is unjust while vowing to continue the movement even after the arrest.

A report of the pioneer also provided that a march in support of the demand for justice to Ankita Bhandari was taken out at Srinagar in Pauri district on the evening of March 7, 2024. Holding torches in hands the protesters demanded that the name of the VIP involved in the Ankita Bhandari murder case should be made public. Notably, the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) president Karan Mahara and former PCC president Ganesh Godiyal also attended the march. The PCC president Mahara said that the State government is trying to protect the VIP involved in the crime.

The arrest of journalist has attracted even more criticism for the BJP-run government in the state of Uttarakhand and the police. The Indian National Congress has deemed the journalist’s arrest to be the government’s attempt to “suppress the voice of the common man”. Uttarakhand Congress chief Karan Mahara stated “With the power of government and police, the BJP is working to cover up the crimes of its party leaders… The involvement of BJP leader’s son in the murder of Uttarakhand’s daughter Ankita Bhandari is well known. But instead of getting them punished, those raising the voice of the victim are getting punished.”

Mahara further said, “When journalist Ashutosh Negi complained about the continuous threats he received, instead of providing him security, the police arrested him. This shows BJP’s true nature.”

Meanwhile, BJP state media in-charge Manveer Singh Chauhan reportedly said the arrest is unrelated to the murder case, as per a report in Newslaundry. As per Chauhan, the arrest of Negi is a purely legal matter which has nothing to do with his involvement in the campaign for justice to Ankita Bhandari. Rather, Chauhan accused the Congress of politicising the issue.



On Women’s Day DUJ Call for a Less Polarized, More Inclusive Media

Report: 294 houses demolished on a daily basis in 2023 in India

Farmers protest: Death of a farmer after teargas shells dropped by Haryana cops, protests intensify as 77 SM accounts banned by MEITY/MHAAnkita Bhandari Case



Related Articles