Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje on Sunday termed as “unfortunate” the death of labour activist Zafar Khan and said “justice shall prevail”, although Khan’s family complained that they were not given a copy of the FIR or the post-mortem report.
The Congress criticised Raje, saying the Chief Minister appeared to have reached the conclusion that Khan’s death was not a murder. Khan died on Friday morning after he tried to prevent Pratapgarh Nagar Parishad officials, including its commissioner Ashok Jain, from allegedly taking photographs of women defecating in the open and chasing them away.
Jain and at least three other government officials allegedly assaulted Khan and were named in an FIR lodged by the activist’s brother Nur Mohammad. The tentative finding of government doctors was that Khan had died of cardiac arrest though the cause would be established after getting the report from the forensic science laboratory.
Khan’s post-mortem report, accessed by The Indian Express, stated: “In the opinion of the Medical Board, tentative cause of death is cardio-respiratory failure, final cause of death will be given after FSL & HPE report of viscera.” The report notes three minor injuries on Khan’s body — an abrasion on left side of the forehead, 0.5×0.3 centimetres; a bruise below the left eye, 2×0.5 centimetres; and an abrasion, 1.7×0.2 centimetres, on dorsal side of right hand. It found no fracture or dislocation of bones and joints.
The post-mortem report states that the scalp, skull, vertebrae, ribcage, lungs and parts of abdomen, including liver, spleen and kidneys, were all healthy. Commissioner Ashok Jain continued to claim he is innocent. SP Shivraj Meena said the police will take appropriate action only after the final report is out. In a tweet, the inspector-general of the Udaipur zone, Anand Shrivastava, said: “Scientific evidence doesn’t suggest murder. Law will take its course.”
Nur Mohammad said a circle inspector and another policeman came to their home on Sunday to record their statement. “They recorded my statement and of another witness. However, no senior officer has turned up, nor have they given us a copy of the FIR or the post-mortem report,” he said. On social media, Raje was questioned about Khan. In a Twitter update early Sunday morning, she said, “The demise of Zafar Khanji in Pratapgarh is extremely unfortunate. Investigation is on — justice shall prevail.”
In a series of tweets, former Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot responded: “The CM of Rajasthan seems to have already reached a conclusion even before an inquiry that Zafar Khan was not murdered. What is the need for investigation then? Can the victim’s family expect justice in such a scenario? The BJP should have also invented a theory, how a healthy man suddenly died, to prove he was not murdered. What a sorry state of affairs, when the CM stoops to divert the issue.” State Congress Chief Sachin Pilot said: “‘Killed’ would have been far too appropriate a word to use for the CM. And going by previous lynching instances, justice is unlikely to prevail.”
CPI-ML leader Dipankar Bhattacharya also announced Sunday evening said that he is on his way to Pratapgarh.