Pehlu Khan Lynching: Key Witnesses Including Victim's Sons Shot At While Going To Court, FIR Filed
Two of Pehlu Khan’s sons, along with other key witnesses of his lynching, were shot at on Saturday on Alwar’s National Highway 8 while they were on their way to a court in Behror in Rajasthan to depose in the case.
Key witnesses were fired upon
The witnesses, Rafique, Azmat and Khan’s sons Arif and Irshad, accompanied by their lawyer Asad Hayat, were on their way to the court when they saw a black Scorpio SUV trying to overtake them. According to a complaint by Irshad, the men shot at them from inside the Scorpio when the witnesses did not stop the car. The Scorpio did not even have a registration plate.
“When we did not stop…the man in the back seat of the Scorpio fired at our Bolero, the bullet whizzed past the left side of our vehicle. We heard the sound of one shot, the Scorpio overtook us, and so we turned back. We decided not to go ahead,” Irshad’s complaint said.
A police officer said that they are verifying the facts mentioned in the complaint they received and have offered police protection to the witnesses. An FIR has been lodged against the unknown perpetrators under sections 307 (attempt to murder) and 507 (criminal intimidation). Police on Saturday escorted Khan’s family and the others to the Rajasthan border after the FIR was filed.
“We don’t have faith in Behror police because they gave a clean chit to the six accused named in the FIR. So, we approached the SP directly. How can we depose in such circumstances? The case should be transferred from Behror to Alwar,” Asad Hayat said, according to The Indian Express.
Pehlu Khan lynching case
55-year-old Pehlu Khan, who was one of the ten dairy farmers in his village, left for Jaipur on March 31, 2017, to purchase dairy cattle. He was trying to increase milk production for the month of Ramadan. Khan and six others on April 1 were returning to his village in Nuh, Haryana from Jaipur. They were carrying the cows and calves they had purchased. On their way back home, a group of cow vigilantes (gau rakshaks) stopped them near the Jaguwas crossing at Jaipur-Delhi national highway and accused them of smuggling cattle.
Despite Khan showing them relevant papers to prove that they had bought the cows for dairy farming, the perpetrators dragged them out of their vehicle and attacked them with rods and sticks. Khan later succumbed to his injuries. The others, although heavily injured, survived.
The perpetrators speak
An NDTV team in August this year posed as research scholars from US and spoke to one of the accused, Vipin Yadav, and recorded his statement with a hidden camera.
“We kept beating him up for 1.5 hours. First, there were ten people then the crowd swelled,” he said. He added that since Khan and the others were not stopping their trucks, he had to overtake them and snatch their keys to catch them.
Clean chit to the perpetrators
On his deathbed, Pehlu Khan had named six men who had attacked him. Among them were Hukum Chand, Navin Sharma, Jagmal Yadav, Om Prakash, Sudheer and Rahul Saini.
Earlier, Rs 5,000 had been announced on each of the six accused but later withdrawn after an investigation found them not guilty. Khan’s son Irshad, who was one of the witnesses to his lynching, said it was “betrayal”.
Nine men who were arrested and charged by police are all out on bail, reported NDTV.
The Logical Indian take
The past few years have witnessed numerous cow-related hate crimes in India. According to reports by The Wire, since 2012, 29 people have been murdered in cow-related violence, 25 of whom were Muslim. Violence in the name of religion is unacceptable. Even if those attacked are smuggling cows, murdering them is entirely against the law.
Taking law and order into one’s own hand is one of the worst forms of crimes. So-called “cow-protectors” who brutally murder people for their love for an animal, does not seem to care much about human lives and does not seem to care about the legal consequences for the terrible atrocities they commit. Cows are considered to be a holy animal by many Hindus, and slaughter of cows savagery.
Violent campaigns against the consumption of beef have led to several murders. Innocent Muslim men have been killed and robbed and in many cases, their property damaged. These criminals, driven by reckless populism, have terrorized minority communities. It is justice that these communities expect. Such hate crimes should be condemned and prompt action taken by the government against the criminals.