Pehlu Khan Lynching: All 6 Accused Acquitted, Raj Govt to Appeal

Pehlu Khan Lynching: All 6 Accused Acquitted, Raj Govt to Appeal

India

The Alwar district court on Wednesday, 14 August, acquitted all six accused in the 2017 Pehlu Khan lynching case on the grounds of “benefit of doubt”.

Hours after the verdict, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot said the state government will appeal against the verdict delivered by the court of an additional district judge.

The six accused let off by the court are Vipin Yadav, Ravindra Kumar, Kaluram, Dayanand, Yogesh Kumar and Bheem Rathi.

Apart from the six acquitted by the Alwar court, three others all under 18 -- are still facing a separate inquiry by a juvenile justice board.

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When and How Was Pehlu Khan Lynched?

Pehlu Khan (55), his two sons and a few others were transporting cows from Jaipur 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.

While his sons survived, Khan, a resident of Jaisinghpura village in Haryana's Nuh district, died in hospital on 3 April, triggering outrage over the murder.

A CNN News18 report had earlier said that at the time of the incident, Khan had even tried to show the purchase receipts to the vigilantes who did not care about it.

Also Read : ‘Betrayal Of Trust’: Pehlu Khan’s Kin On Acquittal of All Accused

Why Did The Alwar Court Acquit The 6 Accused?

The charge sheet of the case was filed in the court of ADJ-Behror on 25 February, 2018. The case was later shifted to the Alwar court.

While acquitting the six men, the court gave them benefit of the doubt, Additional Public Prosecutor Yogendra Khatana told reporters in Alwar.

A lawyer representing the accused said the witnesses produced by the prosecution failed to identify them. He also claimed that the video that purportedly showed the lynching was not sent to a forensic lab by the prosecution.

The court of Additional District Judge Sarita Swami completed the trial proceedings on August 7 and reserved judgment for Wednesday.

One of the accused, Vipin Yadav, had bragged about leading a mob in beating up Pehlu Khan, in a sting operation by NDTV in August 2018.

Apart from the six men acquitted on Wednesday and the three minors, the police initially investigated the role of six others in Pehlu Khan's lynching.

Those six men were given a clean chit by the police in September 2017.

Also Read : Rajasthan Cops to Re-investigate Case Against Pehlu Khan’s Sons

Pehlu Khan’s Family to Appeal to a Higher Court

Pehlu Khan's son Irshad Khan told PTI, "I am not happy with court decision and will appeal in the higher court."

In April 2017, along with the FIR against the people who allegedly lynched Pehlu Khan, the police had also registered a case related to cattle smuggling against his two sons and a truck operator.

The Gehlot government faced criticism recently after a charge sheet was filed in that case.

The police then approached the court, saying it wanted to reinvestigate the cattle smuggling charge, a plea that the court accepted.

Recently, the Rajasthan Assembly had passed a Bill – introduced by the current Congress government in the state – to tackle mob lynching.

'Verdict a Slap on the Face of People Politicising The Case’: Defence Lawyer

Defence lawyer Hukum Chand Sharma called the Alwar court decision historic and a slap on the face of the people who he said were doing politics over it.

He said Pehlu Khan was a heart patient, and there were differing opinions on the cause of death– a heart attack or a rib fracture.

What Are Politicians Saying About The Verdict?

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, said.

He said the BJP had acted correctly. But the matter was given a colour and raised in the entire country."

Slamming the "Shoddy prosecution" in the case, AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi tweeted, "In most lynchings, the accused were happy being filmed while they lynched a human being. They wanted to be famous for these awful acts, But are we to now believe that no one killed Pehlu Khan? What will this deliberately shoddy prosecution tell his family."

(With inputs from PTI)

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