THE RAJASTHAN High Court on Wednesday quashed a case of illegal transportation of cattle for slaughter against Pehlu Khan, a dairy farmer who was beaten to death by a mob of gau rakshaks in April 2017, his two sons, and the owner of the pick-up truck in which they were travelling.
“A bench of Justice Pankaj Bhandari quashed the FIR and the chargesheet against Pehlu Khan, his two sons (Arif and Irshad), as well as the owner of the pick-up (Khan Mohammad),” said advocate Kapil Gupta, who was representing the three.
“The FIR was registered against them under The Rajasthan Bovine Animal (Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Act, 1995. After investigation, police submitted the chargesheet against Arif, Irshad and Khan Mohammad. Police said they had found evidence against Pehlu Khan too but since he had died, the chargesheet did not name him,” Gupta said.
“We prayed to the court to quash the FIR and the chargesheet on the ground that there is no evidence that the cows were being transported for the purpose of slaughter. And that these (two) cows were milch cows and the (two) calves were just one and two months old. Therefore, it cannot be said that these cows were being transported for the purpose of slaughtering, which was the basic offence made out against them,” Gupta said.
He said the court was convinced by their argument and quashed the FIR and the chargesheet.
On April 1, 2017, Pehlu Khan and the others were returning from a cattle fair on the outskirts of Jaipur when they were attacked by gau rakshaks in Behror, Alwar. Khan (55) succumbed to his injuries two days later.
An FIR (No. 253/2017) filed the same day at Behror police station, on a complaint by Sub Inspector Damodar Singh Gurjar, had accused Pehlu Khan and his sons of violating The Rajasthan Bovine Animal Act. They were charged under Section 5 (prohibition of export of bovine animal for the purpose of slaughter and regulation of temporary migration or export for other purposes), Section 8 (penalty for violation of Section 5) and Section 9 (punishment for causing hurt to a bovine animal/ abets the commission of such an offence) of the Act.
A chargesheet was later filed before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate in Behror, embarrassing the incumbent Ashok Gehlot government.
Gurjar, in his complaint, had said that Khan and his sons could not provide a transport permit or a receipt, “hence it was found that the cows were being transported from Rajasthan to Haryana for slaughter.”
Khan had bought the cattle from a fair organised by the Jaipur Municipal Corporation, which had provided receipts. Yuvraj Meena, Revenue Inspector, JMC, who was then in charge of the fair, had confirmed the authenticity of the receipts.
“We produced the JMC receipts before the HC, though they cannot be cited as a permit,” said Gupta.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Pehlu Khan’s son, Irshad, said, “We are very happy and satisfied that the FIR has been quashed, although it has come after two-and-a-half years. The case dragged on for two-and-a-half years under the BJP government, even though there was no reason to file a case against us. But the court’s decision to quash it has now made us hopeful about our father’s case, that he too will get justice soon.”
In August, an Alwar court acquitted all the six accused in the lynching case. Earlier this month, the Rajasthan government filed an appeal in the High Court against the acquittal. The state government has set up a special investigation team (SIT) to probe and identify lapses and irregularities in the investigation.