Pehlu Khan Case: What Followed A Year After Acquittal of Accused
Pehlu Khan was lynched, and succumbed to injuries in 2017. In 2019, the accused were acquitted for lack of evidence.
“With faith and hope, we approached the Jaipur High Court for justice after all the accused were acquitted last year. Took several trips to Jaipur, taking loans to spend for travel and meals, to file our appeal and meet our lawyer. Due to COVID-19, everything is moving very slowly,” Pehlu Khan’s elder son, 28-year-old Irshad tells The Quint from his residence in Mewat, Haryana.
Irshad and his brother, Arif, were also present and beaten up the same day dairy farmer Pehlu Khan suffered grievous injuries at the hands of cow vigilantes on 1 April in Mewat. While both sons fully recovered, Khan succumbed to his injuries at a hospital on 3 April 2017.
In August 2019, the Alwar court acquitted all of the accused for lack of evidence. After this, the state government and Irshad have appealed the acquittal at the Jaipur bench of the high court.
Merging of Appeals
“The day everyone was acquitted was a very painful one for us. We were all shattered. How could the authorities not do their jobs properly. There was also a scary mob of people chanting Jai Shri Ram at the court when the verdict was announced. We were, however, never confused about our decision to file an appeal,” said Irshad. His Jaipur-based lawyer, Nasir Ali Naqvi, practising in Jaipur high court, told The Quint where the case now stands.
“Two petitions were filed after the acquittal of all accused in August 2019. One was by the children of the deceased and the second by the state government. Both appeals were submitted in the high court, after which the court combined both appeals together. This happened five months ago. Nothing has happened since.”Pehlu Khan’s family lawyer, Naqvi
This was also confirmed by the lawyer of the accused, Hukum Chand Sharma.
The next step would be the issuing of notices to all parties, which Sharma said is yet to happen. However, Sharma is quick to add, “It will take time, my appeals from 1985 are pending in high court even today.”
“Due to COVID-19 and the lockdown, courts are not functioning as they used to. But we are not discouraged by this. I am the one who keeps a tab on the case and goes whenever asked,” said Irshad, speaking about the sluggish pace of the appeal.
The Cost of Seeking Justice Amid a Pandemic
Before COVID-19 halted all activity in the country in March, Irshad travelled 240 kilometers to Jaipur from his village in Mewat’s Jaisinghpur to meet the lawyers.
“As many people could fit in a car, would get together and go. Initially we did this, as after the acquittal we were worried about our safety. So we wanted to ensure as many people stuck together.” Irshad said he went at least five times to Jaipur since the acquittal August 2019. “Everytime we go, we spend around Rs 9,000, the rent to go and come, stay there for a night, eat and return. It takes that much.”
He has a loan of about Rs 70,000 on him, most of which have been spent on these travels. He said he cannot even think of repaying the moneylenders currently. “Thankfully, these people also do not ask me. Otherwise what would I do,” he said, adding that Naqvi has not charged him a penny yet.
While Irshad is waiting for the pandemic to die down so he can resume his journey to bring his father’s killers to justice, Sharma believes this case was blown out of proportion, “Appeals are a part of the judicial process. It was highlighted only because of political motives, as it was a case of mob lynching and made headlines.”
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