Jaipur: Almost a month after an Alwar court pronounced its judgement in the Pehlu Khan lynching case, a similar case is lined up to have its day in court. In this case too, self-styled gau rakshaks, apparently convinced of Muslim men being cattle smugglers, thrashed him to death.
Rakbar Khan was killed on the night of July 20, 2018, when he and his friend Aslam Khan were brutally attacked by a mob while they were transporting milch cows on foot to their home in Haryana’s Kolgaon from a village in Alwar.
While Aslam managed to escape, Rakbar was caught and grievously beaten. He succumbed to his injuries a few hours later.
An FIR was registered under Sections 143 (unlawful assembly), 341 (wrongful restraint), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 302 (murder) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code. Three men – Paramjeet Singh, Dharmendra and Naresh – were arrested and later chargesheeted. One more accused in the case, Vijay, was arrested in Jaipur last month.
A Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader in the district and then local Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Gyan Dev Ahuja, who has now been promoted to the rank of BJP’s vice-president in Rajasthan, are said to be involved in the case.
As per the FIR, while patrolling at around 12:41 am, the police received a call from Nawal Kishore Sharma, VHP president in Alwar, who informed them that some men were smuggling cows.
“When the police reached Lalawandi jungle, some men ran away upon their arrival. However, they caught hold of two men, Dharmendra Yadav and Paramjeet Singh, who were standing beside the cows and there was another man on the spot who was lying on the muddy land, all injured. He was identified as Rakbar, a resident of Kolgaon in Nuh, Haryana,” the FIR reads.
Rakbar had said in his statement before succumbing to his injuries, as mentioned in the FIR, that he and his partner Aslam had bought two cows from Ladpur and were taking them home on foot when some men stopped them and started beating them with sticks, which has caused him severe injuries.
How the gau rakshaks mobilised themselves for lynching
As per the chargesheet, the accused had pre-planned Rakbar’s lynching and they were secretly waiting in the field that day.
The farm owners in Lalawandi had earlier told The Wire that they had informed the ‘cow protection’ activists that for quite a few days, some men had been trespassing through their fields at night with cows and they were convinced that the men were cattle smugglers.
Yogesh Kumar alias Monty, a man living around the attack site, in his statement to police has said that he called the former sarpanch, Dara Singh, at 11:55 pm that day and informed him that a “cow issue” had cropped up and some men were beating up a Muslim man who was carrying cows. “I went close to the mob and asked who they were. One of them replied, ‘Paramjeet’,” Monty said in his statement.
Monty was aware that Paramjeet is associated with the gau raksha group. So, he made him speak to Singh over the phone, who requested them to leave Rakbar or else he will die. He also told them that he will be sending the police shortly.
Aslam, Rakbar’s partner who had run away when they were attacked by the mob in the Lalawandi jungle, in his statement during the investigation said, “On July 20, 2018, at around 5 pm, Rakbar came to my house and requested me to come along and assist him in bringing two cows from Khanpur that he had already purchased. I agreed and we first went to Rakbar’s house to pick up his motorbike. When we reached Khanpur, it was already dark. We picked up the cows from a house in Khanpur and Rakbar parked his motorcycle there.”
“We were bringing the cows on foot along the road but suddenly a motorbike passed very closely to us which startled the cows and they jumped into the nearby farmland. Following the cows, we also entered the farmland where six to seven men grabbed us. I pushed them and quickly ran away to hide myself in the farmland. Rakbar was shouting very loudly. One of those men said, “Nawal, Dharmendra, Paramjeet and Naresh break his hands and legs. The MLA is with us; nothing will happen to us.” Later, I heard them saying, “He [Rakbar] is dead. Nawal, you call the police.”
While Aslam has named VHP president Nawal to be among the men who thrashed Rakbar to death, the police has not yet charged him. As per the chargesheet, accused Vijay called Nawal after Rakbar had already been beaten up.
“When Vijay called Nawal, he didn’t pick up the phone. So, he dialled his neighbour Kaniya Lal Sharma. Sharma called Nawal’s wife who made him speak to Vijay. After this, Nawal informed the police,” reads the chargesheet.
Nawal had earlier circulated a photograph of Rakbar seated in a police vehicle as a proof that he was not just alive but well enough to sit up when the police arrived, to assert their innocence and pin the blame for his murder on the police.
“Nawal has displayed himself as being just an informant in the case even when his contribution in the criminal act is no less than that of the accused. He has good political connections and that’s why the police has spared him,” Kassim Khan, advocate in the case, told The Wire.
Cows taken to shelter first, then injured Rakbar to hospital
One more thing revealed during the investigation was that the police first dropped the cows ‘saved’ by the mob to a cow shelter, and only then took severely injured Rakbar to the hospital.
As per the chargesheet, the police was informed about the lynching at 12:41 am, the cows were taken to the shelter at 3:30 am and Rakbar was taken to hospital at 3:50 am.
When Rakbar was taken to Community Health Centre (CHC) in Ramgarh at around 3:50 am, he was declared already dead. Surendra Kumar Narang, nurse during the night shift on July 20 at the Alwar CHC has accepted the same in his statement. “Around 3:50 am, the police along with Nawal Kishore Sharma and two other men brought a patient and told us that he is very critical. We took him to the emergency room. When I checked his pulse, he appeared dead. I called the doctor on duty, Hasan Ali immediately. We declared him dead. When we asked the police about the patient’s whereabouts, they didn’t answer and went out. We had to register him as ‘unknown’ in the register.”
The police was informed at 12:41 am, according to the FIR. Then what took so long for the police to take Rakbar to the hospital? The police accompanied by the gau rakshaks first ensured that the cows were dropped to the Jain Sudha Sagar cow shelter.
At 3:26 am, the cows were taken to shelter. According to the statement of the shelter’s owner Kapoor Chand Jain, “Nawal Kishore called me at 3:12 am saying that he wants to drop two cows in the shelter. He then reached the shelter at 3:26 am and handed over the cows to the staffer named Ram Singh who was on duty that time.”
Another interesting observation that has come out in the investigation is that while the police had found injured Rakbar in muddy land in the farm, when he was taken to the hospital right from the attack site (as mentioned by the police in their statement), he was dressed in clean and dry clothes.
There are different versions of what happened between 12:41 am (when the police was informed about the lynching) and 3:50 am (when Rakbar arrived at the hospital). The police say they were arranging for the transportation of Rakbar’s cows to the shelter, the VHP leader says Rakbar was in a good condition when the police arrived and even clicked a picture to prove the same, Aslam says Rakbar was already dead before the police arrived and the doctors at the CHC say he was brought dead.
Intensive injuries caused death
The post mortem is indisputable in this case. As per the statements of the medical board that conducted Khan’s post mortem, comprising medical jurist Rajiv Kumar Gupta, physician Amit Kumar Mittal and surgeon Sanjay Kumar Gupta, the cause of Rakbar’s death was the injuries he suffered during the mob attack.
Gupta said in his statement, “Rakbar was brought in a dead state to the mortuary. He had suffered 15 injuries. In the opinion of the medical board, the reason of death was shock, caused due to the injuries.”
The advocate representing Rakbar’s family is hopeful that the judgment could be in their favour. “Aslam has identified all the three accused during the test identification parade. This is a strong point for us. The investigation has been conducted well. We are now waiting for the police report of the fourth accused,” Kassim Khan told The Wire.