Jaipur: An Alwar court on Wednesday acquitted all six accused in the lynching of Pehlu Khan, killed two years ago by a mob that set upon him while he was transporting cows. Hours after the verdict, the Rajasthan government said it will appeal against the verdict delivered by the court of an additional district judge.
Apart from the six acquitted by the Alwar court, three others, all of them under the age of 18, are still facing a separate inquiry by a juvenile justice board. The court acquitted the six men, giving them the benefit of doubt.
Haryana resident Pehlu Khan (55), his two sons and a few others were transporting cows when they were allegedly stopped and thrashed by a mob near Behror in Alwar district on April 1, 2017. Later, a video clip surfaced on social media purportedly showing a group of men beating them. Khan died in hospital on April 3, triggering outrage over the murder and focusing attention on attacks by cow vigilantes.
“The court gave benefit of the doubt to all six accused and acquitted them of lynching charges. We have not received the court order copy and will wait for it to study it and appeal in the higher court,” additional public prosecutor Yogendra Khatana told reporters in Alwar.
The accused let off by the court are Vipin Yadav, Ravindra Kumar, Kaluram, Dayanand, Yogesh Kumar and Bheem Rathi.
The court of Additional District Judge Sarita Swami completed the trial proceedings on August 7 and reserved judgment for Wednesday.
Pehlu Khan's son Irshad Khan said, “I am not happy with court decision and will appeal in the higher court.”
Prosecution lawyer Qasim Khan also said there will be an appeal in the higher court.”We are hopeful of getting justice, he said.
Later, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Rajeeva Swaroop told PTI that the state government has decided to file an appeal before the High Court.
Defence lawyer Hukum Chand Sharma called the Alwar court decision historic and a slap on the face of people who he said were doing politics over it.
The then BJP government in Rajasthan under Vasundhara Raje had come under flak over the killing, with the incident escalating the debate over Muslims facing attacks from cow vigilantes.
Leader of Opposition in Rajasthan Assembly Gulab Chand Kataria said the previous BJP government had taken whatever action it could when the Pehlu Khan case took place.
But some people projected the incident in a manner that suggested that the BJP government was in favour of the killing, Kataria, who was the state's home minister then, he said.