2 teenagers convicted for Pehlu Khan lynching, months after key accused acquitted

Updated on Mar 06, 2020 08:52 PM IST

Pehlu Khan, a dairy farmer, was mercilessly thrashed by suspected cow vigilantes in 2017 who thought he was smuggling cattle.

Irshad Khan, 24, holds a picture of his late father Pehlu, 55, in Jaisinghpur.(REUTERS)
Irshad Khan, 24, holds a picture of his late father Pehlu, 55, in Jaisinghpur.(REUTERS)
Hindustan Times, Jaipur | ByRakesh Goswami and Devendra Bhardwaj

Two teenagers accused of being part of the mob that lynched dairy farmer Pehlu Khan in 2017 have been held guilty by Alwar’s Juvenile Justice Board, defence lawyer Adarsh Yadav said on Friday.

Pehlu Khan, a dairy farmer, was mercilessly thrashed by suspected cow vigilantes in 2017 who thought he was smuggling cattle.

Six men who were accused of having led the attack on 55-year-old Pehlu Khan, who belonged to Haryana’s Nuh district were acquitted in August last year. The state government has filed an appeal against the ruling in the Rajasthan high court.

Vipin Yadav, Ravindra Yadav, Kalu Ram Yadav, Dayanand Yadav, Yogesh Khati and Bhim Rathi were given the benefit of doubt after having been tried on charges of murder, rioting, voluntarily causing hurt, wrongful restrain, damage to property and theft.

The two juveniles, the first to be convicted in this case that had sparked nationwide outrage, will be sentenced on Saturday. But they can only be held in custody for a maximum period of three years under the country’s juvenile law.

Lawyer Yadav said he wasn’t clear about the grounds for the verdict by JJB’s principal magistrate Sarita Dhakad because he hadn’t seen a copy of the order.

“We will know the grounds only after the sentencing,” he said.

Another juvenile, who is older than 16 years, is facing trial in another court. The JJB hears cases against people who are below the age of 16.

Khan was attacked on the Delhi-Jaipur highway near Behror in Alwar district on suspicion of smuggling cows when he was transporting cattle bought from a weekly market in Jaipur to his home in Nuh with his two sons. He died in hospital on April 3, 2017.

Additional public prosecutor in the ADJ’s court, Yogendra Khatana, said he was unaware of the evidence used in the hearing before the JJB. “I can comment on the conviction only after going through the order,” he added. “Maybe the lapses in the main case were addressed during trial in the juvenile court.”

The defence counsel in the ADJ’s court, Hukum Chand Sharma, said the judgment of the JJB juvenile court will have no bearing on the main case, in which his clients have been acquitted.

In Jaipur, additional advocate general RP Singh who will argue the appeal against the acquittal in the high court, called the JJB’s ruling an important development. “We will definitely use it during the hearing of the review petition,” he said.

After the acquittal of the six men by the lower court, the state government formed a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the factors that led to the verdict. The team recommended that new evidence be gathered and the suspects named or identified by earlier investigating officers be probed because a charge sheet against a juvenile delinquent hadn’t yet been filed.

Khatana said the prosecution in the juvenile court may have looked at such new evidence, leading to the two juveniles’ conviction.

The SIT was formed on August 17 and gave its 84-page report to director general of police Bhupendra Singh on September 5. SIT pointed to loopholes in probes conducted by each of the four investigating officers of the lynching case.

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