Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Friday said the acquittal of the six accused in the Pehlu Khan case was shocking. Praising the Rajasthan government for enacting a law against mob lynching, Gandhi said, “I hope that a good example of it will be set by facilitating justice in the Pehlu Khan case.”

“There should be no place for inhumanity in our country and murder by a mob is a heinous crime,” the Congress general secretary tweeted, calling the new law in Rajasthan commendable.

Meanwhile, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati called the verdict “most unfortunate” and blamed it on Rajasthan’s Congress-led government of “gross negligence and inaction”. “Would this have been possible if the government there was cautious in ensuring justice to the victim’s family? Perhaps never,” she tweeted.

The Bahujan Samaj Party, with its six MLAs, supports the Congress government in Rajasthan. The Congress had fallen one short of the majority mark in the Assembly elections last year.

Lynching case acquittals

On Wednesday, the court of the additional district judge in Rajasthan’s Alwar district had acquitted all the six adult accused in the Pehlu Khan lynching case, giving them the benefit of doubt. Three other accused, who were minors at the time of the crime, are being tried separately at a juvenile court.

The Rajasthan government has said it will appeal against the judgement. The state is ruled by a Congress-led government.

Also read: The Daily Fix: Acquittals in Pehlu Khan lynching case make it clear that a law alone is not enough

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.

On August 5, the Rajasthan Legislative Assembly had approved a bill to provide for life imprisonment and a fine of up to Rs 5 lakh in mob lynching cases that involve the victim’s death.

In July 2018, the Supreme Court had decried cases of lynching and cow vigilantism and said that mobocracy cannot be allowed in society.