Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday rejected a news report in The Indian Express according to which dairy farmer Pehlu Khan, who was lynched in the state’s Alwar district in 2017 by a mob of cow vigilantes, was named by the police in a chargesheet submitted on December 30, 13 days after the Congress formed a government in the state.
“News reported in Indian Express is factually incorrect,” tweeted the chief minister. “Name of late Pehlu Khan is not there in the chargesheet submitted by Rajasthan Police in December 2018.” Pehlu Khan was transporting cows to his hometown in Haryana in April 2017, when he and his companions were attacked by the mob. Khan died in the attack.
Gehlot said the case reported by the newspaper was registered and investigated in 2017-’18 during the rule of the previous Bharatiya Janata Party government. The chargesheet named the farmer’s sons Arif Khan, Irshad Khan, and Khan Mohammed, who owned the pick-up truck being used by the dairy farmer to transport the animals. Earlier in the day, Gehlot had told ANI that “if any discrepancies are found in the investigation, case will be reinvestigated”.
“Since accused name in the chargesheet were not present at the time of the submission in December 2018, the district court accepted the challan on May 24,” he tweted. “However, our government will see if investigation was done with predetermined intentions.”
Gehlot claimed the Congress was ideologically committed against any kind of lynching “and our government is vigilant to ensure it will not have happened again”.
According to The Indian Express, the latest chargesheet was filed under sections 5, 8 and 9 of the Rajasthan Bovine Animal (Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Act, 1995. It was allegedly presented in the court of the additional chief judicial magistrate in Alwar district’s Behror town on May 29.
“We lost our father in the attack by cow vigilantes and now we have been charged as cow smugglers,” Irshad Khan told The Indian Express. “We had hoped that the new Congress government in Rajasthan will review and withdraw the case against us but now a chargesheet has been filed against us. We hoped for justice after the government change but that did not happen.”
In January 2018, the BJP government in Rajasthan had filed a similar chargesheet against Pehlu Khan’s associates Azmat and Rafeeq. Another first information report in the case was filed against the eight people who allegedly lynched the dairy farmer.
‘Silence of selective liberals’
Meanwhile, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen President Asaduddin Owaisi condemned the latest chargesheet. “It’s double face of Congress,” he told ANI. “When Pehlu Khan was attacked, Congress condemned it. It’s a condemnable act by Ashok Gehlot government. Urge Muslims of Rajasthan to stop supporting Congress which always betrayed you.”
Rajasthan Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Gyan Dev Ahuja claimed that Pehlu Khan, his brothers and sons were habitual offenders and the allegations against gau rakshaks, or cow vigilantes, were wrong.
Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi questioned the silence of “selective liberals”. “Pehlu Khan, the unfortunate victim of mob lynching, has been charge sheeted by the Rajasthan government,” she wrote on Twitter. “The choice of silence and outrage levels of selective liberals is fascinating.”
Pehlu Khan, 55, and his sons were transporting cows, after purchasing them in a cattle fair in Jaipur to their hometown Nuh on April 1, 2017. On their they way back, they were waylaid near Behror on the Jaipur-Delhi national highway by a mob of cow vigilantes and beaten up with the accusations of smuggling cattle, despite his having produced papers to prove that the consignment was legal. Khan died at a private hospital two days later.
In October 2017, an independent fact-finding team concluded that the Rajasthan Police had deliberately attempted “to weaken the cases against the accused gau rakshaks”. The report come a month after the police closed its investigation into the six men named by Pehlu Khan before his death. Their names were removed from the case after an inquiry declared them not guilty on the basis of statements of an employee of a cow shelter, and mobile phone tower signal records.