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Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Video clip that convicted two juveniles in Pehlu Khan lynching was not put on record in acquittal of six

The board led by Principal Magistrate Sarita Dhakad had, last week, convicted the two teenagers — both minors when Khan was lynched — after finding them guilty on the basis of video evidence.

Written by Deep Mukherjee | Jaipur | Updated: March 14, 2020 1:44:09 pm
Pehlu Khan lynching case acquittal, rajasthan cow vigilantes, alwar lynching case, pehlu khan lynching Pehlu Khan died on April 3, 2017.

A juvenile Justice Board in Rajasthan’s Alwar district Friday sentenced and sent two teenagers convicted for the April 1, 2017 lynching of Pehlu Khan to a ‘surakshit bal grah’ (special home) for three years, the maximum punishment for such cases. The board led by Principal Magistrate Sarita Dhakad had, last week, convicted the two teenagers — both minors when Khan was lynched — after finding them guilty on the basis of video evidence.

“The Juvenile Justice Board sentenced the two today to spend three years each in a correction home,” Bhiwadi Superintendent of Police Amandeep Singh Kapoor told The Indian Express.

Also read | Doctors treated Pehlu Khan’s body as dummy: JJB in verdict

Pehlu Khan, 55, had died of injuries on April 3, 2017, two days after he was assaulted by self-styled cow vigilantes near Behror while transporting cattle.

“The Juvenile Justice Board sentenced the two teens after convicting them under sections 147 (rioting), 341 (wrongful restraint), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 427 (mischief causing damage to the amount of Rs 50) of the IPC along with section 302 (murder) IPC read with section 149 (every member of unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object) IPC,” said S Sengathir, Inspector General of Police, Jaipur range.

The case against another minor accused is currently under trial in a juvenile court in Alwar.

In August 2019, the Court of the Additional District Judge Number 1 in Alwar had acquitted all six men accused of assaulting and murdering Khan, giving them the benefit of doubt. It had also observed that the Rajasthan Police probe had “serious shortcomings”.

Shortly after the verdict which acquitted the six accused, the Congress government constituted a special investigation team (SIT) to identify lapses and irregularities in the investigations. After the SIT report highlighted the lacunae at various levels, the state appealed against the Alwar court’s verdict in the Rajasthan High Court.

According to Ram Kishor Choudhary, Sub-Inspector of Bahror police station, the video clips that cleared six in Pehlu Khan murder is cited to convict the two juveniles in the same case. The minors were convicted based on video footage which showed their involvement during the assault on Khan. “This is a major point of difference from the case against the six men acquitted last August,” he said. In its judgement then, the court too had expressed surprise that the videos and photographs — on the basis of which the six accused were identified — were not taken on record.

Choudhary is the case officer in the case against the minors. A case officer monitors the trial process for the prosecution and ensures that all witnesses depose and all important evidence is taken on record.

Last year, the Rajasthan High Court had also quashed a case of illegal transportation of cattle for slaughter against Khan, his two sons, and the owner of a pick-up truck in which they were traveling.

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