Aslam Khan, who escaped the lynching in Alwar Friday when Rakbar alias Akbar was killed on suspicion of being a cow smuggler, has told police that the men who attacked them claimed the support of an “MLA” and that they “could not be harmed”.
In a statement to the Alwar police on Sunday night, before the investigation was transferred to the Jaipur range, Khan said: “Keh rahe the ke MLA sahib hamare saath hain. Hamara koi kuch nahi bigad sakta hai. (They were saying that the MLA is with them and that no one can harm them).” Police also said Aslam heard them taking each other’s names — Dharmendra, Paramjeet, Naresh, Suresh and Vijay.
Rakbar (32) was transporting cows on foot with Aslam Khan, in his early twenties, when they were stopped, allegedly by villagers in Lalwandi, under the jurisdiction of the Ramgarh police station in Alwar district. While Rakbar was beaten to death, Aslam managed to escape.
After the incident, however, Khan had told The Indian Express that he had not heard anything and that as soon as one of the locals fired a gun, and ambushed them, “Rakbar threw the leash he was holding and started running. The men started running after him while I hid in the bushes and the fields nearby. I don’t know what happened to him”.
His statement comes at a time when the state government is under fire for lapses by the police and incidentally, Ramgarh MLA Gyan Dev Ahuja was the first to question the police’s role and had sought a judicial inquiry, saying that cow vigilantes were being unnecessarily targeted.
Asked about Khan’s statement, Ahuja said, “Would anyone say a thing like that? It is being fed to Aslam by corrupt IPS officers (Assistant SP) Anil Beniwal and (former Alwar SP) Rahul Prakash. Police are caught on the wrong foot due to their lackadaisical attitude and stupidity. Police beat him up. If he was severely injured then why didn’t the police immediately take him to the hospital? What did they do with him till 4 am? I have initiated action against Rahul Prakash.”
Ahuja also said: “I have been contesting elections for past 25 years and such a thing has never happened before.(which is because) I keep telling them to never assault anyone and hand the person over to the police. So after 3-4 slaps, they hand over (the alleged smugglers) to the police. I have saved thousands of cows, buffaloes and bulls myself.”
Akbar’s brother Shameem (22) backed the police. “The vigilantes brutally assaulted Akbar and then called the police to hand him over. All these claims by vigilantes are being made to weaken the case,” he said. He also said that the Rajasthan and Haryana governments each have assured Rs 5 lakh to the family.
After drawing sharp criticism for the delay in taking Rakbar to the hospital, Special Director General N R K Reddy said that there was an “error in judgement” by the policemen. State DGP O P Galhotra also ordered a probe by a high-level team under Reddy to look into “connected issues related with the murder of Akbar”. While police had reached the spot of the lynching at 1 am, hospital records show Rakbar was brought in at 4 am and was declared dead.
According to Reddy, Akbar appeared fine to police and they did not realise he had critical internal injuries. “The officials visited the spot, spoke to Akbar’s family, eyewitnesses and concerned police officials. Based on the team’s preliminary findings, ASI Mohan Singh was suspended and three policemen – Vijay Singh, Surendra Singh and driver Harendra Singh – who were with Mohan on Friday night, were sent to police lines,” he said.
Earlier in the day, a video which went viral, showed ASI Mohan Singh, on whose complaint the FIR was lodged, saying, “It was my fault. I have told everyone, punish me or forgive me. There is nothing more left to say.”