"I felt they wanted me to get into it too."
The murder of 19-year-old Ankita Bhandari sent shockwaves across Uttarakhand.
She worked at a resort as a receptionist and it was reported that she was killed by Pulkit Arya, the resort owner and the son of former Uttarakhand BJP minister Vinod Arya.
Ankita was murdered for allegedly refusing prostitution.
Locals subsequently set the resort on fire and now, former employees have said that the resort was a “den of prostitution and drug abuse”.
Ex-employees also claimed that Pulkit used to “mentally harass the employees” and would frame anyone who tried to quit with false cases of theft and assault.
Rishita worked there as a receptionist while her husband Vivek was a housekeeper. They quit before Ankita started working there in August 2022.
Rishita said: “The resort management would provide illicit liquor, cannabis and other drugs, and even girls, to the guests.
“I felt they wanted me to get into it too. They would abuse me, use the worst of slurs.”
Vivek alleged: “I was beaten up and blackmailed over some theft allegations after I objected.”
He went on to say that the local revenue official sided with Pulkit in “not just assaulting me but torturing me mentally too”.
Vivek continued: “After working there for about a month, I was sick of the wrong activities and stopped going to work.”
He returned to work after Pulkit and two managers assured him “those things won’t happen”.
“But that was only for a few days. Soon, it was business as usual for Pulkit Arya, providing drugs and girls and doing other such things for guests.”
After a month and a half, Vivek asked for his salary and said he was quitting. Pulkit then allegedly accused him of petty theft and assaulted him.
“I called the cops, who told me the area isn’t under regular police but handled by a patwari (land revenue official).
“When the patwari came there upon my complaint, he, in turn, asked Pulkit Arya, ‘What do you want me to do with him?’
“They abused me and threatened me with torture in custody. I was forced to write an apology.
“They used that apology as a blackmail tool. But eventually, we just left, willing to risk any consequences.”
Police said that the allegations will be taken into account during the investigation.
On September 25, 2022, Ankita Bhandari’s body was cremated.
Initially, her family refused to perform her last rites until they received the final post-mortem report.
A message from the chief minister that the SIT was doing its job and the perpetrators of the murder would get the punishment they deserve helped convince the woman’s relatives to finally cremate her.