Police have shifted the officer leading the investigation into the lynching of a Muslim dairy farmer last month by alleged cow vigilantes amid mounting criticism of the slow progress in a case that shocked the nation.
Jaipur Police told HT on Thursday that the probe into Pehlu Khan’s death on April 1 near Alwar would be headed by a more senior officer.
“I have transferred the investigation of the case from the deputy superintendent of police to additional Superintendent of Police of Jaipur Rural police district in the larger interest of the case,” said Jaipur Range inspector general of police Hemant Priyadarshy.
Priyadarshy said there was also a request for change of IO from the family of Pehlu Khan.
“This does not mean that the investigation was not in the right direction,” he added. “I am monitoring the case on a daily basis and am satisfied with the investigation so far.”
Additional SP (Kotputli) Ram Swaroop Sharma will now investigate the case of Pehlu Khan’s death instead of DSP Behror Parmal Singh Gurjar.
Pehlu Khan, the 55-year-old dairy farmer from Nuh in Haryana died in a hospital in Behror, Alwar, on April 3, two days after a mob of self-styled cow protection vigilantes attacked him and four others when they were transporting cattle procured from a weekly market in Jaipur to their village. Video footage of the thrashing went viral on social media.
Pehlu Khan’s death again pushed to prominence the growing clout of cow vigilantes who have gained strength since the BJP stormed to power in 2014. The cow is considered holy by many Hindus but experts say violence around cattle trade and beef is a proxy war against Dalits and Muslims.
The case sparked further controversy after Rajasthan minister Gulab Chand Kataria accused Pehlu Khan of being a cow smuggler and Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi claimed in Parliament that the version of events was wrong. Opposition parties have accused the police of going slow in the investigation.
Police registered a case of culpable homicide against six named and 200 unnamed accused for lynching the five men. The FIR was registered on the basis of Khan’s statement he gave to police from his ICU bed. After Khan died, the section of culpable homicide was replaced with section for murder (302 of the IPC).
The named accused are: Om Yadav (45), Hukum Chand Yadav (44), Sudhir Yadav (45), Jagmal Yadav (73), Naveen Sharma (48) and Rahul Saini (24).
They are absconding since April 3 and have not been arrested. “During the course of investigation so far, we have not come across any evidence to take coercive action against them,” the IG said.
However, seven others, identified from the videos of the lynching circulating on social media, have been arrested for the attack.