Video Editor: Mohd Irshad Alam
Cameraperson: Aishwarya S Iyer
“Manseera, where is your father... tell them... where is your father?” Lynch mob victim Rakbar Khan’s wife, Asmeena, asks her youngest while she lies paralysed on her cot in her home in Tapkan village, in Haryana’s Nuh district.
Khan, a dairy farmer from Koalgaon village, was beaten up for hours when he was intercepted by gaurakshaks in Rajasthan’s Lalawadi village on 20 July 2018.
He was bringing two cows back on foot to sell milk. Villagers, some of whom are VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) members, beat him up for hours. He was dead before he reached the hospital.
Rakbar’s Wife Suffers Another Devastating Blow
While reeling from the loss of her husband, Asmeena experienced another devastating blow the first time she stepped outside her home, five months after Khan’s death in December.
She had just completed her period of mourning, called ‘iddat’.
“Observing iddat is important for Muslim women. It lasts for four months and ten days, when we only pray and do not go outside. The first time I stepped out, someday in December 2018, I was headed to meet my children who are studying in Aligarh when while going through a patch of heavy mist on the highway, my vehicle collided with another. I was paralysed that day,” Asmeena said.
The verdict in Rakbar’s case is expected soon, in the same Alwar court with the same judge presiding over the case as the one in lynch mob victim Pehlu Khan’s case.
Pehlu was lynched in broad daylight in Rajasthan’s Alwar. On 15 August, earlier this year, the seven accused in his case were acquitted due to lack of evidence.
Rakbar’s Father and Friend, the Eyewitness, Threatened
But, Asmeena has not been able to track the developments in the case. “If I could move, I would have kept a tab on the case proceedings diligently. But look at me. The case is not on my name, it is on my father-in-law's name.”
Living 60 kilometers away is Rakbar’s 70-year-old father Suleiman, who says he has not missed one hearing in the Alwar court. He has visited Asmeena barely twice since she was restricted to her bed. Suleiman takes a bus to at least two court hearings a week.
Living in the same village is Aslam, Rakbar’s friend and also the prime eyewitness in the case. He was with Rakbar when the two were ‘caught’ by the gaurakshaks, but managed to break away from their grip and survived while he saw his friend being beaten and taken away. Read his devastating story here.
Aslam has also faced open threats in court. When both Suleiman and Aslam asked the court for protection, the court simply told them to ‘stay away from the accused.’
“The magistrate asked me to not visit Ramgarh (the area where the accused live) as there is a possibility that they might ‘beat you up or try to kill you’. They did not give me protection... I asked multiple times but they did not,” Aslam told The Quint.
He has also not been able to work a single day since the incident. “I was a labourer who often travelled for work. Now, I am restricted to this village. How long can I go without work?”
Application Moved to Include VHP Member as Accused
While four of the accused have been arrested, the latest arrest happened in August, Aslam has identified a prosecution witness as one of Rakbar's attackers in the lynch mob.
The family and their lawyer have moved an application to include the witness, Naval Kishore, a VHP member, as an accused in the case.
“When I was hiding in the fields, I saw people beating up Rakbar. They were calling each other out by name. I heard Naval Kishore’s name as people were asking him to beat Rakbar up. He was involved in beating Rakbar. He is no witness.”
All three of them, Suleiman, Aslam and Asmeena, along with Khan’s children have their eyes set on the verdict.
“My heart gave me a jolt when we heard about Pehlu Khan’s case. What if they do the same here. But I have trust in our lawyers and the police... we will get justice,” Aslam said.