The lone eyewitness and friend of Alwar lynching victim Rakbar Khan has told the Rajasthan Police that their attackers claimed to have the support of an MLA, The Times of India reported on Monday.

Aslam Khan, who escaped the July 20 attack, claimed on Sunday: “Keh rahe the ke MLA sahib hamare saath hain. Hamara koi kuch nahi bigad sakta hai [They were saying that the MLA is with them and that no one can harm them].” Rakbar Khan was killed that day on suspicion of being a cow smuggler.

The local MLA is Bharatiya Janata Party leader Gyan Dev Ahuja, who had earlier alleged that the police had beaten up Rakbar Khan. The case has now been transferred to the Jaipur range.

Rakbar Khan was allegedly assaulted by a mob while he and Aslam Khan were transporting two cows and their calves near Lalwandi village in the district’s Ramgarh tehsil. A police team called to the spot found Khan lying injured and put him in their vehicle to take him to the hospital. However, they allegedly stopped for tea along the way and waited to arrange a vehicle to transport the seized cows to a shelter. A witness said the police had also beaten Khan. Khan was declared brought dead at the hospital.

Three men have been arrested in the case so far. The assistant sub-inspector, who allegedly delayed taking the victim to the hospital, has been suspended and three constables have been sent to district lines. However, Rajasthan’s Special Director General NRK Reddy said there was no evidence yet to prove that Khan was beaten while in police custody.

MLA Ahuja, who has sought a judicial inquiry and claimed that cow vigilantes were being unnecessarily targeted, said the police had told Aslam Khan to make such allegations. “Would anyone say a thing like that?” Ahuja asked, according to The Indian Express. “It is being fed to Aslam by corrupt IPS officers Anil Beniwal and Rahul Prakash. [The] Police are caught on the wrong foot due to their lackadaisical attitude and stupidity. Police beat him up. If he was severely injured then why didn’t the police immediately take him to the hospital? What did they do with him till 4 am? I have initiated action against Rahul Prakash.”

Ahuja added that he has always urged people to not take law into their hands. “I have been contesting elections for past 25 years and such a thing has never happened before,” he claimed. “I keep telling them to never assault anyone and hand the person over to the police. So after 3-4 slaps, they hand over [the alleged smugglers] to the police. I have saved thousands of cows, buffaloes and bulls myself.”

Victim died of shock, body has blunt weapon injuries

Rakbar Khan died of shock and injuries from a “blunt weapon or object”, according to a post-mortem report. “There were injuries on the body,” Rajeev Gupta, one of the doctors who performed the autopsy, told NDTV. “Internal bleeding led to the death.”

The report also listed seven to eight fractures on his body.

BJP wants to polarise voters: Sachin Pilot

Meanwhile, Congress’s Rajasthan unit chief Sachin Pilot on Monday claimed the government was letting incidents such as the Alwar lynching take place to polarise voters ahead of the upcoming Assembly elections, reported the Hindustan Times. Rajasthan is set to go to polls later this year.

“This has not happened for the first time in Rajasthan,” Pilot said on the sidelines of a Congress workshop in Jaipur. “Elections are coming and the BJP has failed [to provide good governance] and to get away, they are creating situations which polarise [voters].”

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee also blamed the BJP for the increasing incidents of mob lynchings. “Rajnathji [Singh] condemned the incident in Parliament,” she said, according to PTI. “But, why instead of condemning, they are not controlling their leaders from the upper to lower level? It is only because of their hate campaign that so many lives have been lost.”

Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati also joined Pilot and Banerjee in criticising the BJP government. “Mob lynching is a deed of narrow-minded BJP members and supporters, but they consider it patriotism,” she said. She condemned the Alwar incident, but added that the BJP will not be able to take appropriate action. “Therefore, I request [the] court to intervene.”