‘No one killed Pehlu Khan’: widespread outrage over closure report

People vent their anger and disbelief across social media platforms as Khan’s family and civil rights activists vow to fight this legally

Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images
Photo by Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Ashutosh Sharma

“No one killed Pehlu Khan, no one killed Akhlaq, no one killed Junaid, no one killed Gauri Lankesh. This is our new India,” wrote Aftab Raushan on Twitter, reacting to the closure of investigation against six persons named in the first information report over lynching of dairy farmer Pehlu Khan.

Pehlu Khan, 55, and his son Irshad were waylaid on the Jaipur-Delhi national highway near Alwar in Rajasthan on April 1, when they were on their way to Haryana after purchasing cattle. They were allegedly targeted by Hindu vigilante groups for being Muslims while they were taking home cows bought at a cattle fair in Rajasthan's Alwar.

The incident was video-recorded and the clips—wherein cow vigilantes can be seen mercilessly attacking the father-son duo—was widely shared on social media. Pehlu succumbed to his injuries after two days in Alwar’s Kailash hospital. But in his dying declaration, the murdered dairy farmer had named six persons including Hukum Chand, Navin Sharma, Jagmal Yadav, Om Prakash, Sudheer and Rahul Saini as accused.

In its report to Alwar police, CB-CID—which investigated the matter— has recommended that names of six accused be struck off from the case as they were found “not guilty” in the probe.

In its report, the investigative agency has reportedly claimed that there was no corroborative evidence to prove that the accused men were part of the group which had attacked Pehlu Khan. “The photos and videos of the incident the police accessed, did not show the accused persons. GPS data from their cellphones indicated that they were not at the spot where the attack took place,” CB-CID has reportedly mentioned in its closure report.

Alwar Superintendent of Police Rahul Prakash on Thursday said that a reward of ₹5,000 announced on each of the six accused has been withdrawn as the investigation found them not guilty. Police had arrested seven others, five of whom are out on bail.

“This is betrayal. We heard the names (of the accused) too. We will seek an inquiry again,” Pehlu’s son Irshad, who was with him when he was assaulted was quoted as saying.

People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), which has been campaigning for justice to the family of Pehlu Khan, has accused the state government’s Home Minister and CID-CB—which had been probing the matter, of protecting the accused. “We’re going to fight it out legally and on the street,” PUCL president Kavita Srivastava told National Herald. She alleged that all the accused happen to be the office-bearers of right-wing Hindutva groups. “The civil rights groups and Pehlu Khan's sons, who were also complainants in the police case, would challenge the CID-CB's closure of investigation in the court,” she added.

Pertinently, Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria had described the attack as “manhandling” and it was only after protests by civil society and activists that Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje broke her silence on the issue, saying that “such activities won't be tolerated in Rajasthan.”

Nevertheless, the clean chit to all six accused named by the murdered Muslim dairy farmer has prompted widespread outrage across the country. Here’s how social media users—including civil society members, political leaders and activists—have reacted:

Incidentally, the BJP Government in Rajasthan had created a ministry for ‘Gaupalan’ in 2013, which was later relegated to a department. The Rajasthan Bovine Animal Act, 1995 prohibits the export of cows for slaughter and treats the transporter as an abettor.

Earlier, contrary to the assertions and accusations of Rajasthan home minister, the family of Pehlu Khan was acquitted of the charge of cow smuggling by two local courts in April.

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Published: 14 Sep 2017, 4:50 PM