The court of the additional district judge in Rajasthan’s Alwar district on Wednesday acquitted all the six accused in the Pehlu Khan lynching case, giving them benefit of doubt, reported PTI. Three other accused, who were minors at the time of the crime, are being tried separately at a juvenile court.
Rajasthan Additional Chief Secretary (Home), Rajeeva Swarup, said the state government will appeal against the judgement, according to The Indian Express.
Khan was killed in April 2017 after being attacked by cow vigilantes near Behror on the Jaipur-Delhi national highway. The 55-year-old dairy farmer was transporting cows to his hometown Nuh in Haryana on April 1 after purchasing them at a cattle fair in Jaipur. The mob of cow vigilantes waylaid Khan and his son, and accused them of smuggling cattle even though he produced papers to prove that the consignment was legal. Khan died at a private hospital two days later.
“The court today acquitted all six men who were accused of murdering Pehlu Khan,” Qasim Khan, who has provided legal help to Khan’s family, told The Indian Express on Wednesday. Public prosecutor Yogendra Khatana said Khan’s family will challenge the verdict, according to the Hindustan Times.
Vipin Yadav, Ravindra Kumar, Kaluram, Dayaram, Yogesh Kumar alias Dholia, and Bhim Rathi were arrested on the basis of video and other evidence. The arguments from both the sides in the lynching case were completed on August 7.
Last month, the trial court had accepted a police application seeking permission to reopen the investigation in the case against the person who drove the truck the cattle were being transported in, and Pehlu Khan’s sons Arif Khan and Irshad Khan.
This came months after the police filed a chargesheet against Khan’s sons, and Khan Mohammed, who owned the pick-up truck. It 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. The chargesheet was submitted in a court on May 29.
The police also named Pehlu Khan in the chargesheet for cow smuggling, and said the offences against him under the act were proven, according to a report published in The Indian Express. However, the dairy farmer was not formally accused since he had died by the time the chargesheet was filed. A few days later, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot rejected the report. Gehlot said the case was registered and investigated in 2017-’18 during the rule of the previous Bharatiya Janata Party government.
Seven FIRs have been lodged at the Behror police station so far in the case. One FIR was filed in connection with the lynching, while six were registered for cattle smuggling.