New Delhi: The Rajasthan police have filed a second chargesheet against the two men, Azmat and Rafeeq, who were traveling with Pehlu Khan – a dairy farmer who was lynched by cow vigilantes in April 2017. The chargesheet, accusing Azmat and Rafeeq of smuggling cows, was filed by Alwar police on January 24, reports Indian Express. Citing the chargesheet, the Hindustan Times reports that Azmat and Rafeeq did not have a permit to transport the cows.
According to Indian Express, the “police had charged nine men with the murder of Khan after identifying them from video footage of the lynching”. However, in September 2017, six men – who were named by Khan before he succumbed to his injuries – were cleared of the charges. A Hindustan Times report states these six men were cleared “based on the statements by the staff of a cow shelter as well as mobile phone records”, further adding that this clearance “spark[s] allegations that the authorities are under pressure to protect cow vigilantes”.
On April 1, 2017, Khan and his two sons were returning from an animal market in Jaipur with two calves and two cows when he was lynched by gau rakshaks. The Wire had earlier reported that “they were stopped and assaulted by self-styled cow vigilantes for ‘illegally’ transporting cattle, even after they told them they had the required permit”. Additionally, Khan’s companions – Azmat and Rafeeq – were also assaulted. Khan was admitted to a hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries two days later. During the two days he was hospitalised, Khan was able to give the police a statement naming the six men who assaulted him. Indian Express stated that Khan’s statement named “Hukum Chand, Navin Sharma, Jagmal Yadav, Om Prakash, Sudheer and Rahul Saini” as his assailants.
After the release of the six men named by Khan, The Wire cited Irshad Khan saying that,“this is absolutely wrong. We don’t accept the investigation at all. Those men were RSS and Bajrang Dal agents and that’s the reason why the government is protecting them”
In the same article, The Wire quoted Pankaj Singh – the additional director general (crime) – who insisted that “we didn’t find any evidence, be it photographic evidence or locational evidence for these six people to be there but from the photographs we found that there were two other people who were definitely present and their presence is corroborated by others also. So, we are recommending these two people apart from the seven people who are already chargesheeted but regarding the six people named in the FIR by Pehlu Khan, we didn’t find any evidence”.
The Rajasthan Bovine (Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Act prohibits bovine export for slaughter. Additionally, it equates the responsibility of the transporter to the person committing the slaughter. Indian Express states that “according to the Act, a competent authority, who is defined as the collector of a district or any other officer authorised by the state government can issue permits for migration of bovines outside Rajasthan”.
The Hindustan Times quoted Alwar sub-divisional officer Baldev Ram Bhojak as saying, “The JMC (Jaipur municipal corporation) must be issuing the permits. I have never issued any”.
However, Azmat stated, “We were pulled out and beaten with sticks, belts and other weapons for a long time. They also tore the transportation permit we got from Jaipur municipal corporation” as reported by the Hindustan Times.
After the six men were cleared, the Hindustan Times reported Irshad Khan’s reaction to the decision, “Till our last breath, we will continue the fight. What was done to us was wrong and we have also told the police about their role in the attack. We cannot stand by as they are declared innocent”.