In a shocking turn of events in the Pehlu Khan lynching case, an Alwar Court acquitted all six accused. The accused were let off after being given “benefit of doubt”. Interesting the viral video of the mob lynching was ruled inadmissible!
Earlier the police had given the accused a clean chit based on statements from the staff of a local cow shelter and phone records. What the police failed to highlight was that Jagmal Yadav, one of the accused, was also the manager of the cowshed whose employees testified that he and the other accused were present at the cowshed at the time of the crime.
The court of additional district judge first (ADJF) in Alwar pronounced the judgment on Wednesday in what is arguably one of the most controversial mob lynching cases in the country. This is because not only was the entire dance of death caught on camera clearly showing the assailants, but also because Pehlu Khan himself was chargesheeted in the case on allegations of cow smuggling!
The police chargesheeted Pehlu Khan’s sons Irsad (25) and Arif (22) under sections 5, 8 and 9 while charges have been framed against the deceased under section 6 of the Rajasthan Bovine Animal (Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Act, 1995. The chargesheet against Pehlu Khan was prepared on December 30 last year, 13 days after Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s government came into power in Rajasthan.
The case had a tortuous journey throughout the investigation and trial. About 45 witnesses have given their statements including 2 sons of Pehlu Khan who survived the mob assault. Shockingly, the lawyer, two witnesses and Khan’s sons were also attacked on their way to court on the day they were to record their testimony.
Further an independent investigation by journalist Ajit Sahi revealed a cover up at the FIR state itself, along with several lacunae in the investigation and prosecution. Here are key unanswered questions:
Question-1: If the police became aware of the attack only at 3:54 am on April 2, how did they take Pehlu Khan to Kailash Hospital on the night of April 1?
Question-2: How did the police record a statement at 11:50 pm on April 1, if they only became aware of the crime at 3:54 am the following morning?
Question-3: If the Kailash Hospital is only 2.9 kms away from the Behror Police Station, why did it take more than four hours before even an entry could be made in the general diary?
Question-4: Did the police purposely ignore the IPC sections that were most appropriate in the case?
Question-5: If contacting the accused was so easy why did the police claim that they were ‘untraceable’ and why did it go through the drama of announcing a reward for information about their whereabouts?
Question-6: Did the police purposely ignore and not investigate the accused’s links with the VHP and the Bajrang Dal?
More details of how the police botched the case may be read here.