June 20, 2021 3:36:25 am
Almost three years after 31-year-old Rakbar Khan was lynched by ‘cow vigilantes’ in Alwar, police have finally arrested local VHP leader Naval Kishore Sharma, accused by the family in the case.
Rakbar’s family had said Sharma, the VHP Gau Raksha cell chief of Ramgarh, Alwar, had led the mob that beat him to death. While the FIR in the case, that had rocked the BJP government in Rajasthan, placed Sharma at the scene of the crime, it said he had tipped off police about the incident.
As news of Sharma’s arrest reached the family, Rakbar’s cousin Haroon, 30, said the VHP leader had been “the mastermind”. “He should have been arrested earlier. But better late than never. Now he should stay in jail and get the harshest punishment,” Haroon said.
Alwar SP Tejaswani Gautam said Sharma had been arrested Thursday night. “As per the current Investigating Officer (IO), he has been found guilty of conspiracy, (of being) involved in cow vigilantism.”
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IO Shriman Meena, Additional SP, Alwar Rural, declined to elaborate on the investigation.
Special Public Prosecutor Ashok Kumar Sharma said the arrest had followed discovery of additional evidence, including Sharma’s telephonic messages. “They were being examined since long. Second, he was a part of the criminal conspiracy. He was misleading police and informing them, yet everything was happening under his watch. He gave the impression that he is with police and helping them.”
The prosecutor said Sharma had been sent to 10-day custody.
Rakbar, a dairy farmer, and Aslam Khan were transporting cows on foot on the intervening night of July 20-21, 2018, to their village Kolgaon in Haryana, when they were attacked by villagers at Lalwandi under Ramgarh Police Station in Alwar. While Rakbar was beaten to death, Aslam managed to escape.
Dharmendra Yadav, Paramjeet Singh, Naresh Sharma and Vijay Kumar had been arrested while investigation was kept pending against Sharma under Section 173 (8) of the CrPC. A chargesheet was filed against the four but the final arguments are yet to be heard. Paramjeet and Naresh are out on bail.
At the time, Sharma had told The Indian Express that he had reached the spot after the incident. “Some local youths had called me after midnight. As my phone was on silent, they called my nephew, who woke me up and told me locals had caught a cow smuggler and asked me to call police. So I called police at 12:41 am… I live close to the police station and hence I barely took five minutes to get there, and then waited another 5-10 minutes for a police jeep.”
When they reached the spot around 1.15-1.20 am, Sharma had said, Rakbar was lying in the mud, with two cows tied to a tree nearby. He said some villagers had run away seeing the police jeep.
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