Pehlu Khan’s eldest son Irshad Khan, 28, who helplessly saw his father mercilessly beaten to death by a mob of cow vigilantes in April 2017, still hasn’t lost hope. Despite many setbacks, including the acquittal of all the accused by a local court in Alwar on August 14 this year, Irshad still retains immense faith in the judicial system of the country.
“If we lose the case yet again, not only us but the faith of common man will be strongly shaken,” Irshad says.
Q. Have you received the court order, acquitting the six persons in the case?
We are yet to receive the court judgment. Once we get it, we would begin the process of appeal in the High Court.
Q. Do you believe the SIT probe instituted by the Rajasthan government would help you to get justice in your father’s case?
We are hopeful that the SIT probe would ensure that my father gets justice and the real accused do not go away scot-free. The SIT probe has been asked to submit its report in 15 days, investigating the case all over again.
It has already been two years since my father was murdered in broad daylight before a crowd, supported by a filmed video. There is strong evidence against the accused. Yet all the accused are being let off one by one.
Earlier in 2017, the six accused Hukum Chand, Om Prakash, Sudhir Yadav, Rahul Saini, Navin Sharma and Jagmal Yadav named in my father’s dying declaration were let off on the basis of statements given by those present on the scene. We had heard their names being called out but then also they were let off.
This time too, all the six accused have been let off. This is travesty of justice. But this time, with reinvestigation ordered, the family expects fair play, neutrality and non-partisanship.
Q. You and your family have always said that you believe in the Indian judicial system despite the judgements that have gone against you. Why is your belief so firm? Are you not angry with the delay and lacuna in the system?
Despite the setbacks, we as a family have decided to pursue the case till we get justice for our innocent father. We have no other option. Because leaving the case would mean the common man no longer can trust the judiciary and would be resigned to their fate.
We know pretty well that the Behrod police botched up the case, was highly prejudiced under the previous government and hence presented evidence as they were not. And the court can only give judgment on the basis of evidence presented.
My father’s case has caused outrage not only amongst the minorities but amongst all the sections of the society, irrespective of their caste and religion. If we lose the case yet again, not only us but the faith of common man will be strongly shaken.
When everything fails, it is the judiciary we believe will not let us down. A case where we have strong evidence, video evidence, will not be denied justice. Court is actually our last and only resort.
Q. What do you have to say about the police investigation so far?
What can I say about the highly biased police probe ? When my dead father and my brother Aarif and myself can be chargesheeted under the Rajasthan Bovine Animal ( Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Act, 1995 and Rules, 1995, one can imagine how fair the probe has been.
My father’s dying declaration was recorded where he named some of the accused but the duty doctor’s certification was not obtained, which could prove whether my father was in a state to give a statement or not.
So who is to blame for this? The many photographs and video clip recorded on the spot and which went viral were not sent to forensic science laboratory and as such the evidence was rejected by the court. Again, who is to be blamed?
Neither was the mobile phone seized by the police. My father was beaten up on April 1 but the FIR was registered on April 2 evening. There are no recording of the statements of eye witnesses there. There has been no identification parade of the accused.
The two chargesheets filed by the state police and CID contradicted each other and hence the six accused Kaluram, Ravindra Yadav, Bipin Yadav, Yogesh, Dayanand and Bhim Rathi were all let off.
How many more lacunae you need to pinpoint that police has taken sides. Whether under pressure or because of other reasons, only they can tell.
Q. How much money have you already spent so far on the case?
It is a huge amount for us, running into lakhs. Some organisations have helped but we have to shell out the major chunk from our meagre family income. It has been a strain but we intend not to give up.
Q. Do you people still get threats about withdrawing the case ?
No, now we don’t get threats anymore. We are hopeful that this government, which has brought in the new Act, which makes mob lynching a non-bailable offence, coupled with life imprisonment and a penalty of Rs 5 lakh, would help in my father’s case. Am not sure though whether it can be implemented with retrospective effect in this case. They have also assured filing an appeal in the High Court against the lower court judgement. We hang on hope now.