Key witnesses to the lynching of Pehlu Khan in Rajasthan last year, including two of Khan’s sons, were Saturday fired upon on National Highway 8 in Alwar while on their way to a court in Behror to depose in the lynching case.
While police have registered an FIR and assured the family of security for court appearances in the future, Khan’s family said they will move an application to transfer the case to Alwar from Behror before the next hearing.
Asad Hayat, the lawyer representing Khan’s sons, Irshad and Arif, told The Sunday Express that he was in the car with them when a black SUV without number plates tried to force them to stop. “I was in the car with witnesses Azmat (28) and Rafiq (25) and Pehlu’s sons Irshad (28) and Arif (21), along with the driver, Amjad (23). We were going to Behror to depose in Pehlu’s lynching but when we crossed Neemrana, a black Scorpio without a number plate tried to overtake us and make us stop.”
According to Irshad, the men in the black SUV opened fire when they refused to stop. “The vehicle came near and the men inside waved their hands, asking us to stop. They said, ‘roko gaadi’, ‘roko gaadi’ (stop the car). We might have even stopped but didn’t as their vehicle did not have a number plate. Then, their vehicle came closer and the men started hurling abuses at us, telling us to stop at once. They overtook us and then fired at us,” he said.
Alwar SP Rajendra Singh said, “An FIR has been filed at Neemrana following the complaint submitted to the police.” The FIR has been filed against unknown persons under IPC sections 307 (attempt to murder) and 507 (criminal intimidation).
After the FIR was registered, Khan’s family and the witnesses were escorted by the police to the Rajasthan border on Saturday evening. The Alwar police have also asked the witnesses to share the route, vehicle, date and time of their arrival so they can be provided with a police escort.
Khan’s sons and the witnesses were on their way to Behror from Nuh in adjacent Haryana, where they live. The firing took place around 8 km from where Khan was lynched in Behror.
Irshad and Arif were with their father Pehlu Khan in a pick-up truck on April 1 last year when they and Azmat and Rafiq were attacked by gau rakshaks on NH8 in Alwar while they were on their way to Haryana after purchasing cattle in Rajasthan. Pehlu Khan, a 55-year-old dairy farmer, succumbed to his injuries two days later.
Irshad said that they were saved by a gap in the road divider, and made a quick U-turn. Hayat, who was in the front seat next to the driver, said that they had to make the U-turn to avoid the SUV. “They fired at us since we didn’t stop. We sped away and their vehicle went on towards Behror. We took another route through the villages to reach Alwar and meet the SP,” Hayat said.
“We didn’t even know the route and asked locals for directions. Humko bhi maar denge phir kaun gawahi dega, (who will depose if we are killed too?),” Irshad said.
“We don’t have faith in Behror police because they gave a clean chit to the six accused named in the FIR. So, we approached the SP directly. How can we depose in such circumstances? The case should be transferred from Behror to Alwar,” Hayat said.