Pehlu Khan judgment lays bare glaring lapses in probe
The police failed to investigate the people named by Pehlu Khan in his dying declaration, did not obtain a certificate from the hospital where he was being treated on his fitness ahead of recording his statement, did not bother to send a video of the lynching on which their case was based for forensic analysis, and could not even produce the mobile phone on which the video was recorded, according to the judgment issued by an Alwar court on Wednesday.
On Thursday, state chief minister Ashok Gehlot, who is also in charge of the home department, tweeted saying that a probe would be conducted on the lapses. He added that the state government will file an appeal against the verdict in the Rajasthan high court.
The 92-page judgment, which highlights the glaring holes in the investigative process and the prosecution’s case, was delivered by additional district judge Sarita Swami, who acquitted the six accused of lynching Khan, giving them “benefit of doubt” in the absence of adequate evidence.
Khan, a dairy farmer, was lynched on the Delhi-Jaipur highway near Behror in Rajasthan’s Alwar district while he was transporting cattle from a market in Jaipur to his home in Nuh, Haryana, on April 1, 2017.
The court acquitted the six accused -- Vipin Yadav, 19, Ravindra Yadav, 29, Kalu Ram Yadav, 44, Dayanand Yadav, 47, Yogesh Khati, 30, and Bhim Rathi, 28 -- and explained why the prosecution’s case didn’t work.
For one, according to Swami, those named by Pehlu Khan in his dying declaration, two days after he was assaulted, were not made accused in the case presented by the police before her court.
Khan named Om Yadav, Hukum Chand Yadav, Sudhir Yadav, Jagmal Yadav, Naveen Sharma and Rahul Saini, members of the local unit of Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Bajrang Dal, in his dying declaration on the basis of which their names were added in the FIR.
However, their names were dropped from the FIR on the grounds that they were not at the crime spot at the time of the incident. “The investigating officer of the case told the court that the six accused, whose names were mentioned by Khan in his [dying] statement, were questioned. Their locations and call records were analysed, which revealed that at the time of the incident, they were not on the (crime) spot, instead they were at an [Alwar] cow shed,” the judgment said. The cow shed is run by Jagmal Yadav.
Swami said those named by Khan are residents of Alwar’s Behror town while Khan was from Nuh district in Haryana, and that the police could provide no explanation on why he named them.
Two, the FIR named the six accused 16 hours after Khan’s dying statement. They were neither mentioned in Khan’s dying declaration, nor in the statements of the others who were beaten up during the attack on Khan. “No explanation regarding this was given (in the investigation reports),” the judgment said.
Three, according to the judgment, no certificate was taken by the investigating officer from the doctor of the Alwar hospital where Khan was admitted in an intensive care unit, on whether he was medically fit to give a statement.
Four, although the police claim the nine accused, including three minors facing trial in a juvenile court, were identified on the basis of a video that surfaced after the incident, the police failed to get the forensic examination of the video done to gauge its authenticity, the judgment said.
Five, the investigating officer neither seized the mobile phone nor sent the video for forensic examination.
Six, the police failed to get the identification of the accused persons done by the victims, which raised doubts on whether those accused were even present at the crime spot.
While absolving the accused of all charges, the judge said the prosecution failed to provide evidence.
When contacted, two investigating officers in the case, former deputy superintendent of police, Alwar, Parmal Singh Gurjar and the then station house officer, Behror police station, Ramesh Sinsiwar, declined to comment on the court’s observations on the investigation.