An independent fact-finding team on Thursday said the Rajasthan Police had deliberately attempted “to weaken the cases against the accused gaurakshaks” in case of the lynching of dairy farmer Pehlu Khan in Alwar on April 1. The team said the police delayed registering the First Information Report and only filed nominal charges against the accused.

Khan was attacked while he was transporting his cows from Rajasthan to Haryana. Although he had permits for the animals, a group of men had accused him of transporting them illegally and then assaulted him. Many of his attackers were allegedly affiliated with the Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad.

The report by the fact-finding team said that FIR was filed nine-and-half-hours after the incident, and pointed out that the crime scene was only 2 km from the police station. “The FIR claims that the police were informed of the attack at 3.54 am” on April 2, but “according to the FIR the attack took place between 7 pm and 10 pm on April 1”, said the report.

It added that the police did not add Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code, for the offence of attempt to murder. “Instead, the FIR invokes Sec 308, which only takes cognisance of attempt to culpable homicide not amounting to murder, prescribing imprisonment of three to seven years,” the report said.

The team found that all the accused were Hindtuva activists in the area. It said six people who were named by Khan in his dying declaration were let off by the police stating that their mobile location showed they were not at the spot, reported Times Now.

On September 14, the Rajasthan Police had closed its investigation against the six men whom Khan had named before he died. Their names were removed from the case as an inquiry had found them not guilty.

On September 29, the Rajasthan High Court granted bail to two accused. With this, all accused in the case of cow vigilantism are out on bail – the High Court had released three accused earlier, while two others were granted bail by a juvenile court. Two more suspects are still missing.

The team suggested that the six men named by Khan should be arrested, a new FIR should be registered and an investigation ordered into Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal for involvement in the murder.

The team also criticised the Bharatiya Janata Party for defending the cow vigilantes. “An army of gangsters in the name of gau raksha” is doing the lynchings, said Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan. He called the cow vigilantes the “storm troopers from Hitler’s time”. Bhushan alleged that the cow vigilantes “work with the support of the government and police work with them”.

The report has been endorsed by Alliance for Justice and Accountability, New York, Human Rights Law Network, New Delhi, and South Asia Solidarity Group, London.