New Delhi: A district court in Alwar, Rajasthan on Thursday (May 25) found four of the five men accused of lynching Rakbar Khan in 2018 guilty. The fifth accused was acquitted.
The four men convicted of the crime – Dharmendra Yadav, Paramjeet, Vijay Kumar and Naresh Kumar – have been found guilty of culpable homicide and wrongful restraint, and sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment.
The fifth accused – Nawal Kishore – was acquitted on grounds of insufficient evidence, NDTV reported. He is a local leader of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Rakbar’s wife expressed dissatisfaction with the judgment and the sentence. “The main accused has been acquitted while the others have been given only seven years – this should be increased. This is not justice. My husband was murdered by them,” Asmina said.
Special public prosecutor Ashok Sharma too said while he was happy with the convictions, the sentence was not enough.
Nasir Ali Naqvi, another SPP in the case, told The Indian Express that he is writing to the government to appeal the case in the high court. “They should have been convicted under IPC 302 (murder) too. And the one acquitted (Naval Kishore) had been identified in the court by the other victim Aslam (who was with Rakbar when the mob stopped them, but had managed to escape). When you are considering his statement on others (leading to their conviction), how can you discard it for Naval?”
After being acquitted, Kishore reportedly told The Indian Express that the other four are also innocent: “The other four are also innocent, we have full faith in the high court. I won’t say that there is political pressure (on the trial court), they must have acted as per their understanding. We have got some justice, and will get more from the high court.”
The case dates back to July 20-21, 2018, when Rakbar, a dairy farmer, and Aslam Khan were transporting cows on foot on the intervening night to their village Kolgaon in Haryana, when they were attacked by villagers at Lalwandi under Ramgarh Police Station in Alwar. While Aslam managed to escape, Rakbar was beaten to death.
According to accused Kishore, when the incident took place, he had informed the police immediately after reaching the crime scene. As per his version, some local youths had called him after midnight. As his phone was on silent mode, the youth had called his nephew, who then woke him up and told him that locals had caught a cow smuggler and asked him to call the police. So, he called the police at around 12:41 am. As he lived close to the police station, it took him barely five minutes to reach there, and he had waited five to ten minutes for the police jeep before heading to the crime scene.
When they reached the spot around 1.15-1.20 am, Kishore had said, Rakbar Khan was lying in the mud, with two cows tied to a tree nearby. He said some villagers had run away seeing the police jeep.
After the incident, the FIR mentioned some Dharmendra Yadav, Paramjeet Singh, Naresh Sharma and Vijay Kumar, and they were arrested. However, the police kept investigation against Sharma pending under Section 173 (8) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC).
Earlier, Rakbar’s family had expressed fears that the accused would be let off the hook, as has happened in other vigilante lynching cases like the murder of Pehlu Khan.
The police’s role on the night Rakbar was attacked has also been questioned, specifically after a photo of Rakbar sitting in a police vehicle went viral.