Journalist raising Ankita Bhandari’s case slapped with SC-ST act, Wife gets transfer order

Dehradun: The petitioner in Ankita Bhandari’s murder case and the editor of Jago Uttarakhand Manch, has been booked under the case of SC/ST Act. The case alleges that Negi used casteist slurs against an applicant, adding a new layer of complexity to the journalist’s ongoing legal engagements.

Negi, who is actively involved in advocating for Ankita Bhandari’s case and is also a petitioner in a Supreme Court case, claims that the state government is imposing false charges to deter his involvement in seeking justice for Bhandari. Speaking exclusively with Neo Politico, Negi expressed his concern over the government’s actions, stating, “I regularly ask questions in Bhandari’s case. The state police is filing cases to pressure me to withdraw from the case.”

The case has sparked a social media uproar, with netizens accusing the government of using legal measures to threaten and silence the journalist. Negi, while shedding light on the situation, revealed that on the same day the case was filed against him, his wife received a transfer order. This development raises questions about potential government interference and harassment against Negi for his involvement in high-profile cases.

Negi emphasized that he had previously lodged complaints against the person who filed the SC/ST Act case but no actions were taken. He alleges that the recent case is a ploy to suppress his voice and thwart his efforts to seek justice in Ankita Bhandari’s case.

Expressing his concerns, Negi highlighted that the state government has failed to deliver justice to Ankita Bhandari’s family. The journalist now fears the possibility of imminent arrest and imprisonment, signaling a tense atmosphere surrounding his legal advocacy.

Know the case

Ankita Bhandari, a receptionist at Vanantra Resort in Ganga-Bhogpur, Pauri District, was reported missing on September 18, 2022. The prime suspect, Pulkit Arya, son of BJP leader Vinod Arya and the resort’s owner, stands accused of her murder. The distressing incident unfolded when Ankita failed to respond to her family’s calls, leading to a frantic search in her room. Disturbingly, she had confided in a friend, Pushap Deep, about harassment at the resort, where she was reportedly pressured to provide “extra services” to a VIP for Rs. 10,000.

Ankita’s father filed a missing complaint, but initial actions were delayed. Subsequently, the Laxman Jhula police took charge and arrested the three accused—Pulkit Arya, Ankit Gupta, and Saurabh Bhaskar. During police interrogation, they confessed to pushing Ankita into the Chilla canal after a heated argument.

In a shocking twist, the Vanantra Resort was bulldozed and torched by unknown individuals on the same night as the arrests, causing extensive damage. Initially deemed as swift justice, the government later denied involvement in the matter.

Ankita’s family, dissatisfied with the postmortem report, refused to perform her last rites until the final autopsy report was made public. They accused the administration of destroying evidence through the demolition of the resort. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) was formed, but demands for a CBI probe surfaced on social media and from the victim’s father, leading to High Court involvement.

In December 2022, a 500-page chargesheet was filed against the three accused. Shockingly, in May 2023, allegations of rape before Ankita’s murder emerged, implicating Saurabh Bhaskar.

During court testimony in December 2023, JCB driver Deepak claimed he bulldozed Vanantra Resort on the orders of then Sub-Collector and BJP MLA Renu Bisht to destroy evidence, adding a political dimension to the already complex case.

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