The Rajasthan police on Thursday (September 14) closed the case on the six accused named by the lynched farmer Pehlu Khan in his dying declaration. According to the CID CB Rajasthan the six men accused by Pehlu Khan before his death were not involved in the lynching, though his son Irshad claims otherwise.
In a press conference held by lawyer Tehseen Poonawalla, Lawyer and Congress Maharashtra Secretary Shehzad Poonawalla along with Former Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh Digvijaya Singh, the family of Pehlu khan expressed their angst and revealed the blatant apathy they received from the Rajasthan police and the government.
Irshad Khan, son of Pehlu Khan, who witnessed the brutal lynching of his father said that the Rajasthan Police gave clean shit to 6 of the 15 accused, including two minors, in spite of the fact that his father specified their involvement in the case before his death.
Irshad blamed the BJP-ruled Rajasthan government for not providing him and his family adequate protection to fight the case despite being aware of the threats they have been receiving. He even alleged that he received threats from BJP workers on phone.
"We have been threatened of being shot if we appear before the Court and the police have so far only given us false assurance. Every time we asked the police about the investigation, we were just given false hopes."
Agitated and bereaved, Irshad demanded an answer, "At least tell me who killed my father." He also appealed that the case should be transferred outside Rajasthan, where he can appear for court hearings without fear.
Instead of registering a case against the accused, Rajasthan Police initially registered a case against Pehlu Khan and his sons Irshad and Arif under the Rajasthan Bovine Animal (Prohibition of slaughter and Regulation of temporary migration or export) Act, 1995. Section 302 against the "killers" was added after the outrage, Shehzad Poonawalla pointed out.
Loopholes in the investigation
The glaring contradictions in the Rajasthan Police report and the clean chit given to the six accused by the CID CB, indicate at an unfair investigation of the lynching. The Rajashthan police report clearly mentioned the names of Om Yadav, Hukum Chand Yadav, Sudhir Yadav, Jagmal Yadav, Naveen Sharma and Rahul Saini as the accused in the case, however, the CID CB gave them a clean chit on the ground of statement by a staff of a gau shala connected to the act and the mobile locations of the six accused at the time of the act.
Shehzad Poonawalla pointed out how the investigation could have been botched. He said, there have been several cases in the Supreme Court where dying declaration has been accepted without any corroborative evidence but in the case of Pehlu Khan both the dying declaration and the testimony of his son Irshad Khan have been ignored.
Contradictions were also noticed in the case of the two-page bail order of another accused Ravindra where the order had two different information. In one page the order read that the accused was seen in the video footage of the lynching and the other page of the same order claimed that the accused was not in the murder spot.
Shehzad Poonawala said, "The judgments of the court indicate that even convictions can be based upon dying declarations and for the Rajasthan Court, acting under some pressure, to use flimsy grounds to overrule it and give a clean chit smacks of a massive cover up."
"Of the seven accused in the case, five are now out on bail even though some are clearly seen on camera beating up Pehlu Khan. This is because the police officers have helped them by saying that there is no evidence against them. If there was no evidence, why were they arrested at all?" Shehzad added.
Lawyer and petitioner for Manav Suraksha Kanun (MASUKA) Tehseen Poonawalla also said that "law has been subverted in the case of Pehlu Khan,"
He said that he will raise the issue of Pehlu Khan in the Supreme Court and will apprise the court of the "massive cover" up in the case, and how justice is being denied to the family of Pehlu Khan.
Tehseen Poonawalla said that he will also demand a court monitored probe in the case of Pehlu Khan as "no fair probe can be expected from the Rajasthan Police given the political and ideological support given to the perpetrators by the high and the mighty in the state,"
Digvijaya Singh also called out the Narendra Modi government on the increasing number of lynching and mob violence in the country. "This Government is responsible for creating an atmosphere of fear in the country," he further added.
Taking on the government, Digvijaya said "BJP Government is trying to protect the accused and is denying justice to the victims. This has become a pattern across India where the victims are left hapless and the accused, mostly with links from Sangh Parivar and affiliated groups are protected,"
Pehlu Khan's family was also helped with financial assistance of Rs 25,000 at the press conference.