Pehlu Khan Lynching Case: Rajasthan Govt Files Appeal in HC 2 Months After Acquittal of All 6 Accused
A court in Rajasthan's Alwar on August 14 acquitted all six accused in the Pehlu Khan lynching case, giving them the benefit of the doubt based on the shoddy investigation and chargesheet submitted by the police in connection with the case.
A picture of Pehlu Khan, who was lynched by cow vigilantes in April 2017.
New Delhi: Over two months after a trial court in Alwar acquitted the six accused in the Pehlu Khan lynching case, the Rajasthan government and the kin of the deceased filed two appeal petitions before the Rajasthan high court against the acquittal on Thursday.
A court in Rajasthan's Alwar on August 14 acquitted all six accused in the Pehlu Khan lynching case, giving them the benefit of the doubt based on the shoddy investigation and chargesheet submitted by the police in connection with the case. The verdict was pronounced by the court of the Additional District Judge in Alwar.
Khan, a 55-year-old native of Haryana’s Nuh, had left his village to purchase cattle in order to increase milk produce for Ramzan. Surrounded by a mob of cow vigilantes on the Delhi-Alwar highway on April 1, 2017, he tried to save himself by showing his purchase receipts, but was lynched with rods and sticks.
The six accused let off by the court are Vipin Yadav, Ravindra Kumar, Kaluram, Dayanand, Yogesh Kumar and Bheem Rathi. The police had also accused Goliya and Bheem Rathi of the crime and presented a supplementary chargesheet against them. Three minors were also accused and they are facing a separate inquiry by a juvenile justice board.
Hours after the court acquitted the accused, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had said the state government will appeal against the verdict delivered by the court of an additional district judge.
A video of the incident that had also gone viral showed Khan being beaten up by a mob, thrown to the ground and kicked.
Two FIRs were filed in the case- one against the attackers and the other accusing Khan and his sons with allegedly transporting cattle without requisite permissions.
The Rajasthan government had constituted an SIT under the supervision of the state’s ADGP (crime), to identify the loopholes in the investigation and hold individual officers who had conducted the probe accountable. The SIT later pinpointed many serious lapses in the investigation.
The 84-page report was submitted to Rajasthan Director General of Police Bhupendra Singh. The three-member team formed to hold a fresh inquiry and examine the previous investigation said the video of the crime was not taken on record for evidence, despite the fact that it was used to identify the accused.
The video, which showed Khan, dressed in a white salwaar kurta, being dragged on the highway by a group of cow vigilantes who beat him mercilessly, had gone viral on the internet and can still be seen online, but was not used as evidence in the trial as the police did not get it authenticated by the Forensic Science Laboratory.
The SIT, in its report, has also pointed out that investigation officer Parmal Singh had seized the mobile phone, which was used to record the lynching, but failed to produce it before the court.
The report further says that the officer “gave a false statement before the court that he had not seized the mobile phone”.
In all, the investigating officer alone is alleged to have made 29 “mistakes”. The second investigating officer given charge of the case later also overlooked the lapses. The third investigating officer did not record the statements of witnesses, while the fourth one exonerated six accused without any new or solid evidence.
Once the Crime Branch of the CID took over the case from the police, it gave a clean chit to the accused on grounds that their mobile tower location at the time of lynching was found at ‘Dahmi Gaushala’, and not at the crime scene at Behror, giving them an alibi, the SIT said.
However, the SIT team, alleging negligence at hands of the CID-CB, found that that the distance between the crime scene and the ‘gaushala’ was only 2km. It pointed out that a mobile can pick up a signal from different towers if they are such a short distance apart.
The SIT report said the six accused – Vipin Yadav, Ravindra Yadav, Kalu Ram Yadav, Dayanand Yadav, Yogesh Khati, and Bhim Rathi – should also have been charged with dacoity, rioting and rioting armed with a deadly weapon in addition to murder, but important evidence was either not gathered or not presented properly during the trial.
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