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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Pehlu Khan lynching case: Rajasthan HC admits kin’s plea, summons six acquitted by trial court

In August 2019, an Alwar court had acquitted the six accused, giving them the benefit of doubt and observing that the Rajasthan Police probe had “serious shortcomings” and signified “gross negligence”.

Written by Hamza Khan | Jaipur |
Updated: September 7, 2021 2:48:07 am
The family of dairy farmer Pehlu Khan, who was lynched by alleged gau rakshaks in Alwar. (Express Archive/Amit Mehra)

THE RAJASTHAN High Court Monday summoned six persons acquitted in the 2017 Pehlu Khan lynching case following an appeal filed by the victim’s sons, Irshad and Arif, among others.

The court issued “bailable warrants against the accused-respondents to secure their presence before this court in the sum of Rs 10,000, returnable within a period of eight weeks”. It also clubbed the plea with a 2019 appeal filed by the Rajasthan government against a lower court’s acquittal order.

In August 2019, an Alwar court had acquitted the six accused, giving them the benefit of doubt and observing that the Rajasthan Police probe had “serious shortcomings” and signified “gross negligence”.

On April 1, 2017, Pehlu and four others, among them his two sons, were returning from a cattle fair in Jaipur’s outskirts to their home in Haryana when they were attacked by cow vigilantes in Alwar’s Behror. The mob accused them of being cattle smugglers and assaulted them, leading to Pehlu’s death two days later.

On Monday, a High Court bench of Justices Goverdhan Bardhar and Vijay Bishnoi admitted the appeal by his sons, and relatives Azmat and Rafeeq, against Vipin Yadav, Ravindra Kumar, Kaluram, Dayanand, Yogesh and Bhim Singh, all of whom were acquitted.

In March 2020, two other accused were convicted by the Juvenile Justice Board while a third, who was juvenile at the time, is still absconding.

Senior advocate Nasir Ali Naqvi, who filed the appeal on behalf of Pehlu’s kin, said that “the High Court prima facie found that there was some substance in the appeal, and hence has summoned the accused through bailable warrants”.

“Our plea was that there are injured eyewitnesses, and they are taking names of the accused. Then, the deceased sustained a number of injuries and died on account of those injuries, coupled with the fact that weapons were recovered from the accused. Despite this, the trial court discarded the testimony of the eyewitnesses,” Naqvi said.

In 2019, Additional District Judge Sarita Swami had noted several discrepancies in the investigation to conclude that the accused should be given the benefit of doubt. The court had cited how the accused were not named in Pehlu Khan’s statement, and that the police did not confiscate the mobile phone used to record the video of the lynching, which was the basis of the chargesheet.

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