New Delhi: More than 200 residents of Jaipur participated in a daylong dharna on Monday, April 17, demanding justice for Pehlu Khan, the 55-year-old Haryana resident who succumbed to his injuries after being assaulted by gau rakshaks on April 1. The crowd – which consisted of representatives of various organisations as well as several relatives of Khan – also demanded the speedy arrest of the six accused named by Khan before his demise.
Swami Agnivesh, a social activist and former MLA of Haryana, addressed the gathering and denounced cow vigilantes, adding that they should be booked under anti-terror laws for their behaviour, a press release issues by the organisations said. He claimed that that the blame for buying cows should not be heaped solely upon the buyer, that it is also the responsibility of the seller to know the intentions of the buyer. He also pointed out that the government’s policy of buying cow excesses for organic farming did not show seriousness regarding saving cows.
An uncle of Khan’s claimed that the latter could have been alive if he had been moved to a better hospital than the Kailash Hospital in Behror. Instead, he was left to die in a hospital which did not give him the required attention and the proper treatment, he alleged. Adding that the entire village was living in fear and wanted to return their cows to the collector, he said that they all wanted action and justice.
Naeem Rabbani, the owner of Hotel Hyatt Rabbani, which was targeted on March 19 with the allegation that his staff had fed beef to a cow, also spoke at the dharna, saying that his livelihood had been attacked because he was a Muslim running as successful hotel.
The crowd expressed its displeasure that the Rajasthan police had not arrested any of the six accused, particularly because they are local members of RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal groups. According to the press release by the organisations, apart from their primary demand, the protesters also called for an end to all cow vigilantism, suspension of the station house officer of Alwar on grounds of negligence, resignation of home minister Gulab Chand Kataria for glorifying the criminals and the shifting of Azmat Khan – one of the other victims of the vigilantes – to a good hospital in Gurgaon. They also demanded that Rs 1 crore be paid to Khan’s nearest of kin and that the rest of the victims be compensated with Rs 25 lakh for their recovery, that all FIRs against them be closed and that Hotel Hyatt Rabbani be reopened at the earliest.
Organisations and unions present included the All India Kisan Sabha, National Muslim Women’s Welfare Society and Suchna Evam Rozgar Adhikar Manch among others.
The incident took place on April 1, when six people allegedly attacked Khan and four others while they were transporting two milch cows on the Alwar highway. According to the injured victims, the attackers were not interested in whether they had the requisite permits and instead beat them brutally and left them unconscious.