Jaipur: Two months after the fourth accused in the Rakbar Khan mob lynching case was arrested in Jaipur, the Rajasthan police has chargesheeted him.
Speaking to The Wire, Alwar superintendent of police Paris Deshmukh said, “After the lynching, Vijay, a resident of Lalawandi village, had been absconding for a year till we nabbed him in Jaipur. During the investigation, the evidence corroborated the accusations against him.”
Khan was killed on the night of July 20, 2018, when he and his friend Aslam Khan were brutally attacked by an angry mob of self-styled ‘gau rakshaks‘ 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 Yadav and Naresh Singh – were arrested on July 21, 2018, a few hours after Khan was lynched, and later chargesheeted. One more accused in the case, Vijay, was arrested in Jaipur in August this year.
After chargesheeting the three accused under Sections 302 (murder), 323 (voluntary causing hurt), 341 (wrongful restraint) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of the Indian Penal Code, the police had sought permission from the court to further investigate the remaining accused, Vijay and Nawal Kishore Sharma, under Section 173(8) of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
All five accused in the case are residents of Lalawandi village, where Khan was lynched. One of them is associated with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and is known to have the support of then local Bhartiya Janta Party MLA Gyan Dev Ahuja, who has now promoted to the post of BJP’s vice-president in Rajasthan.
Aslam, Khan’s friend who had run away when they were attacked by the mob in the Lalawandi jungle, in his statement during the investigation had pointed fingers at Ahuja’s involvement in the lynching. “One of those men [who were beating Khan] 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 [Khan] is dead. Nawal, you call the police,” Aslam mentioned in the statement.
Now, the only accused remaining to be investigated in the case is Nawal Kishore Sharma – chief of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad’s gau rakshak cell in Alwar’s Ramgarh. He is supposed to have led the mob against Khan. Soon after the lynching took place, Sharma had also circulated a photograph of the victim seated in a police vehicle as proof that he was not just alive but well enough to sit up after he was beaten up by the mob.
“Nawal Kishore is the mastermind of the lynching. He had tactfully restricted his version of the incident to being just an informant in the case but the truth is that he had mobilised the mob that day. Despite his involvement, the police didn’t arrest him because of his high political connections,” Kassim Khan, advocate in the case, told The Wire.
As per the chargesheet and the local accounts, the lynching seemed to have been pre-planned. The Wire had earlier reported that farm owners in Lalawandi said that they had informed the gau rakshak activists that for quite a few days, some men had been trespassing through their fields at night with cows. The farmers were convinced the men were cattle smugglers.
“It was the fourth time in the last 14 days that these men were taking cows through this shortcut to their village. They would choose a time to cross our fields when there would be the least chance of anybody being present. For the past few days, we had noticed the footprints of men and cows in our fields but we couldn’t dare to stop them single-handedly,” Gaj Raj Yadav, one of the local land owners where the incident took place had said. “So we informed some local men who claimed to be working for gau raksha about this problem. Our farms are the last spot where these smugglers could be caught. Beyond these, the Mohammedan area starts.” There, he alleged, “they openly sell beef and you cannot question anybody.”
Rakbar is survived by seven young children, a widow and parents in their 70s.