At least 17 months have gone by since 55-year-old dairy farmer and cattle trader Pehlu Khan was lynched in Alwar, Rajasthan, on April 1, 2017, and later succumbed to his injuries. The six men Pehlu Khan named as his attackers before he died have all been absolved by the police of any guilt. This is despite Indian law treating a “dying declaration” as evidence.
In September 2017, Rajasthan police state police’s Criminal Investigation Department has said its investigations showed that six of the men were not involved in the attack and removed their names from the FIR.
On Saturday, September 29, witnesses in the lynching of Pehlu Khan were on their way to Behror to depose, when they were fired at by unknown men on National Highway 8. They were with their lawyer Asad Hayat. “I was in the car with witnesses Azmat and Rafiq and Pehlu’s sons Irshad and Arif, along with driver Amjad. We were going to Behror to testify in Pehlu’s lynching case but when we crossed Neemrana, a black SUV tried to overtake us and make us stop,” said Hayat.
Adding to Hayat’s statement, Khan’s son Irshad said that the men in the vehicle were waving hands, asking them to stop. He said that they would have stopped if they hadn’t noticed that the vehicle didn’t seem to have a number plate. “The vehicle overtook us and then fired at us. We turned around to go to Alwar police station and they sped away towards Behror,” said Irshad to National Herald.
Khan’s son Irshad said that the men in the vehicle were waving hands asking them to stop. He said that they would have stopped if they hadn’t noticed that the vehicle didn’t have a number plate
According to a news report in the Indian Express, the witnesses were coming from Nuh in Haryana, where they live. They were then forced to take another route to reach the Alwar police station.
A worried Irshad was quoted as saying, “Who will depose if we are killed too? We don’t have faith in Behror police because they gave a clean chit to the six witnesses named in the FIR. So we’re approaching the SP directly. How can we depose in such circumstances? The case should be transferred from Behror to Alwar.”
One of the witnesses, Azmat said to National Herald, “We are at the police station to file an FIR. The police has said they will investigate the matter. We are not sure who opened fire at our vehicle.”
While talking to NH, Alwar SP Rajinder Singh said, “Pehlu Khan’s sons and Azmat have filed an FIR against unknown persons. We are investigating the case and we can’t comment on it now.”
Irshad and Arif were with their father Pehlu Khan on April 1, 2017, when they, Azmat and Rafiq were attacked by cow vigilantes in Alwar while they were on their way to Haryana after purchasing cattle in Rajasthan.
Following Khan’s lynching on April 1, police had registered two cases—one against Khan’s assailants for murder and another against Khan and his companions for ‘indulging in cow smuggling’.
In January this year. the police filed chargesheets not against the killers but against the young men, Azmat and Rafeeq, who had been attacked with Pehlu Khan, terming them cow smugglers.