Former Uttarakhand DGP Aloke B Lal on Tuesday said the hurry shown in the demolition of the resort in question in the Ankita Bhandari murder case must have destroyed crucial evidence.
There have been allegations from various quarters about the destruction of evidence in the murder case by an overnight razing of parts of the resort at Bhogpur in Pauri district.
"It seems to me that the proper procedure of a demolition of the so-called illegal resort was not followed in this case. Usually, a show-cause notice is issued before any such exercise is undertaken," Lal told PTI in an exclusive interview.
"However, in this case, bulldozers razed portions of the resort in the dead of night without any prior notice. The sudden action must have destroyed crucial evidence in the case," he added.
"The main purpose behind the late-night action could be seen as the administration's over zealousness to project itself as effective. The action seems to have been aimed at gaining brownie points for quick action against the accused," he said.
He also wondered if the demolition was carried out by the accused persons themselves. He said the investigation would establish who actually carried out the demolition and on whose orders.
On the Pauri district administration's claim that videography of the resort had been done on September 22 itself, two days before a bulldozer razed parts of it and that all evidence was intact in the video footage, the former DGP said videography cannot record such forensic evidence like strands of hair, sweat, saliva or semen drops which would have been crucial to establish relevant facts.
The doubts about possible destruction of evidence are only deepened by news reports that the mattresses of rooms put on fire allegedly by an angry mob of locals were found floating in a pool in the resort, he added.
"Mattresses in such cases may contain vital evidence like strands of hair or semen drops," the former DGP said.
He wondered where was the footage recorded on the CCTV cameras of the resort. That will have vital evidence to establish what happened before the alleged scuffle took place.
Another factor that makes things look murky is the delay in transferring the case from revenue police to regular police. People may see in it a deliberate attempt to protect the guilty, he said.
"Revenue police is both untrained and unequipped to handle murder cases. Why was the case allowed to lie with it for four days? Murder cases are time sensitive. Delay leads to loss of evidence and the case becomes more difficult to unravel," he said.
"During my tenure in the Police HQ in 2001-2002, I had written to the government seeking an end to the stone age revenue police system but, unfortunately, it still continues in Uttarakhand," he said.
Lal stressed that it must immediately be replaced by regular police everywhere in the state.
However, the former DGP said he hoped that the SIT headed by DIG P Renuka Devi would examine the case from all angles and bring out the truth.