“We are afraid that the court will acquit the accused just the way they did in the Pehlu Khan case,” Haarun Khan, the brother of Rakbar Khan, told the website.
In 2017, dairy farmer Pehlu Khan was lynched by a mob and killed while transporting his cattle. A Rajasthan court had in 2019 acquitted all the six accused in Pehlu Khan’s case, giving them the benefit of doubt. In March 2020, two teenagers were found guilty. This was the first conviction in the case three years after the incident took place.
In an application to Alwar’s District and Sessions Judge Sangeeta Sharma, Rakbar Khan’s 73-year-old mother Habiban and Aslam Khan, a key witness in the case, said the presiding officer was in favour of the accused.
“The accused tell us that they have ‘managed’ the presiding officer and now the judgement will be in their favour,” the application alleged.
The family has also raised questions about the presiding officer’s integrity. “Recording of prosecution evidence is still going on but we have come to know that the judgement is already being written,” the application said. “In such a situation, we have no hope for justice from ADJ 1 [Additional District Judge] Sarita Swami.”
The application also claimed the presiding officer favoured the accused when writing down the evidence, according to The Indian Express.
The family had asked Judge Sharma to either take the case herself or transfer it, but the request was denied. The judge asked the applicants to approach the High Court as she was not authorised to transfer the case under a special court set up for mob lynching cases.
Rakbar Khan, a resident of Haryana, and his friend Aslam were transporting two cows through a forest area near Lalawandi in Alwar when they were attacked by a mob on July 20, 2018, on the suspicion of cow smuggling. While Aslam managed to escape and hide, Khan died of his injuries while in police custody.
Mohan Singh, an assistant sub-inspector, subsequently admitted that there had been a delay in taking Khan to hospital. He was suspended and three other personnel were transferred. Four accused have been arrested in the case so far.