The six accused, who allegedy lynched Pehlu Khan, a dairy farmer in Alwar district of Rajasthan on April 1, have been given clean chit by the police. The move absolving the cow vigilantes in the lynching case has triggered protests in the BJP-ruled state, with civil rights groups and family of the victim calling it a "betrayal."
Pehlu Khan and some other men were transporting cows from Rajasthan when they were stopped and thrashed by a mob of cow vigilantes. Khan had named six men -- three of them belong to Hindu right-wing organisations -- before succumbing to his injuries in a private hospital in Behror on April 3.
Khan's his family — especially his uncle — had threatened to commit suicide if justice was not done. They wanted the culprits be given exemplary punishment. The police started a rigorous probe into the incident after the family stood their ground.
However, the investigators have come to the conclusion that the six men, who were named by the victim before he died, were not responsible for the crime.
The staff of Rath Gaushala, the cow shelter patronised by Jagmal Yadav, one of the suspects in the case, vouched for the six accused. They said that the six suspects were not at the spot where Khan was lynched.
They maintained that the six men – Om Yadav (45), Hukum Chand Yadav (44), Sudhir Yadav (45), Jagmal Yadav (73), Naveen Sharma (48) and Rahul Saini (24) – were present on the premises, of the cow shelter, about four km from the site of the attack, when the lynchng took place reported Hindustan Times.
Besides the alibi presented by the cow shelter group, the Crime Investigation Department-Crime Branch (CID-CB) also took into account the mobile records of the suspects before giving them clean chit.
After a thorough investigation, the CID-CB on September 1 directed the Alwar police to remove the six men from the list of accused in the case. Following this, the police also cancelled the reward of Rs 5,000 each declared for passing information about the six accused.
This new development has not gone down well with Khan's family and civil rights groups.
"This is betrayal. We heard the names (of the accused) too. We will seek an inquiry again," said Pehlu's son Irshad, who was with him during the assault, reported the Indian Express.
The announcement also triggered an outrage among in civil rights groups in Rajasthan.
The People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), which is the leading organisation fighting for justice to the victims in the case, said the police were protecting the accused as they are office-bearers of right-wing Hindutva groups. The PUCL took out a protest march in Jaipur on Thursday.
"The CID-CB is under direct control of the Home Minister. Its blatant bias is very obvious," PUCL president Kavita Srivastava told The Hindu.
Srivastava said that they would challenge the CID-CB's closure of investigation in the court. "The court will not allow closure without issuing notice to the complainants. We will expose the illegality of police action in the court," stated Srivastava.
Here's a video of the lunching: