When a mob of cow protection vigilantes publicly assaulted five Muslim dairy farmers in Alwar on April 1, the Rajasthan police’s first response was not to register a complaint against the attackers, but to file a First Information Report against three of the men who were brutally beaten. One of the men, 55-year-old Pehlu Khan, eventually died of the injuries on April 3.
Since Khan’s death, media conversations about the incident have been dominated by reports of prominent leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party denying the attack or defending the cow vigilantes. In the midst of this, the fact that the victims of the violence have a police case registered against them seems to have missed public scrutiny.
During the lynching on the evening of April 1, the police arrived on the scene within 20 minutes. However on the afternoon of April 2, the first complaint the police officially registered was by a man named Damodar Singh Gurjar, charging Khan and his sons Irshad and Arif under the Rajasthan Bovine Animal (Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Act, 1995.
In the FIR, of which Scroll.in has a copy, Gurjar claims he came across the site of the incident while driving through Alwar at 7.30 pm on April 1. According to his statement, he saw that a group of 200-300 people from the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and other groups had blocked a pick-up truck on the highway, and that three people – Khan, Irshad and Arif – were lying injured nearby. Gurjar claims that when he checked the truck, he saw two cows and two calves tied together in the cramped space. When he asked the three men for documentation to prove where the cows were from, Gurjar claims the Khans did not have any documents and that the cattle were being take from Rajasthan to Haryana for slaughter.
Gurjar’s FIR has charged the Khans with export of cattle and causing cruelty to the animals, which, under the Rajasthan Bovine Animals Act, is punishable with six months to five years of jail and a Rs 5,000 fine.
Nearly two hours after filing this complaint against the Khans, the Alwar police finally registered an FIR charging an unidentified mob with unlawful assembly, wrongful restraint, causing hurt and culpable homicide, among other charges.
All through this, Khan’s sons have maintained that they did have the required receipts to prove that they were not cattle smugglers, but had actually bought the cows and calves from Haryana for their dairy farm.
Irshad Khan has accused both the vigilante mob as well as the Rajashtan police of not checking the receipts of their cow purchase deal. Despite this, the police has not yet dropped the case against the victims of the violence.