Jaipur: Two years after dairy farmer Pehlu Khan was lynched by cow vigilantes in Rajasthan and all the accused were set free under the BJP government, the state police, under the Congress government, has now chargesheeted Khan and three others, including his two sons, Irshad and Aarif, for illegally transporting cattle. The chargesheet has also named the owner of the pick-up truck that was used to transport cattle by Khan and others, when the lynching took place.
The chargesheet against Khan was presented in the court of additional chief judicial magistrate in Behror on May 29. Chief minister Ashok Gehlot, who is also in-charge of the home department, has so far maintained silence over the matter, despite wide media coverage.
The case is entirely based on the absence of a valid permit from the competent authority for transporting cattle outside the state. As per the chargesheet, the investigation revealed that Khan had purchased two cows and two calves from a cattle fair in Jaipur and had a permit from the Jaipur municipal corporation. But under the Bovine Act, the competent authority to grant permission for transportation any bovine animal outside the state is a district collector. The chargesheet stated that the collector, in a letter dated April 23, 2017, said his office did not grant permission to Khan and his sons.
Khan’s son had said that they were taking the cows to their homes in Haryana. Later, they submitted an affidavit in the court, pledging that they were transporting the cows to sell them to their relatives in Chor Chavandi near Tapukara, a village in Alwar and they had the rawana, receipt of fair tax, tolls and other fees payable under the Act to transport the cattle within the state.
Two FIRs were lodged against Pehlu Khan and four others, including his sons, who were beaten up by cow vigilantes of Sangh parivar-affiliated organisations, a day after his lynching. He was accused of trying to transport the cattle out of the state without the permission of the competent authority under Sections 5, 8 and 9 of the Rajasthan Bovine Animal (Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Act.
Last year, the police had already chargesheeted two men – Azmat and Rafeeq, who were travelling along with Pehlu Khan when he was lynched, accusing them of smuggling cows.
In fact, anticipatory bail to Pehlu Khan and four others was initially denied by the court as it observed their act as a “serious act against humanity.” The court ordered:
“No such document has been presented before the court by the advocate which makes it clear that the cattle were being transported by a valid permit. Humans are expected to deal with the animals humanly and there is no place for inhumane treatment of animals in our society. Carrying bovines stuffed in a vehicle with their faces tied to each other, in the humble opinion of the court, is an act against humanity and it is of very serious nature.”
Lost all hopes of justice: Son
Speaking to The Wire, Pehlu Khan’s son Irshad said the family is unable to comprehend the development. “We were simply purchasing cows for their milk but we lost Abbaji and now there is a case on us. The police talk about valid permit, don’t they see one doesn’t spend Rs 50,000 to slaughter a cow?”
The family has lost all hopes of justice, even under the Congress regime, he said. “We are alone. No one comes for support now.”
In September 2017, the crime investigation department (crime branch) of the state police cleared the six accused – Om Yadav (45), Hukum Chand Yadav (44), Sudhir Yadav (45), Jagmal Yadav (73), Naveen Sharma (48) and Rahul Saini (24) – named by the critically-injured Pehlu before his death. The six men were absconding after being named.
Police reportedly concluded that none of the accused were present at the location at the time of the attack. They reached this conclusion based on call records, along with the base transceiver station locations of mobiles. The statements of the employees of a cow shelter, Rath Gaushala, situated four kilometres away from the crime spot, were also taken into account.
Pankaj Singh, then additional director general (crime) had admitted to The Wire that the department has given a clean chit to all six men accused in the case. “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 adding these two people, apart from the seven who are already chargesheeted. But regarding the six people named in the FIR by Pehlu Khan, we didn’t find any evidence,” he said.
Singh also said the murder doesn’t seem to be a planned one. “It is a far-fetched probability that all six would leave their phones behind. Phones have become an indispensable part of our lives, I don’t think it’s possible that their phones were not with them, especially when they were following vehicles carrying bovines.”