Political row over Pehlu probe, SIT to be set up
The Rajasthan government has decided to constitute a special investigation team (SIT) to examine alleged shortcomings in the Pehlu Khan case probe, three days after an Alwar court acquitted the six people accused of lynching the dairy farmer two years ago, a senior official said on the condition of anonymity.
“Apart from filing an appeal seeking review of the Alwar court verdict, the government has also decided to set up a SIT, which will probe the lacunas in the investigation and will also collect fresh evidence, which may have been ignored in the earlier investigation. The terms of reference of the SIT is being finalised,” the official said.
Meanwhile, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati on Friday hit out at the Rajasthan government and the police over the acquittal of six people accused of lynching dairy farmer Pehlu Khan two years ago.
Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi also took to social media and called the court’s verdict shocking. However, she lauded the Congress-led Rajasthan government’s efforts in enacting a law against mob lynching.
A lower court in Rajasthan had on Wednesday let off all the six suspects in the Pehlu Khan lynching case on the benefit of doubt.
The Khan, 55, was attacked by alleged cow vigilantes in Alwar on the Jaipur-Delhi national highway, when he and five others were transporting cattle from a weekly market in Jaipur to their village in Nuh, Haryana. Khan died in the hospital on April 3, 2017.
In a tweet, Mayawati stated, “Due to the gross negligence and inaction of the Congress government in Rajasthan, all the six accused in Pehlu Khan mob-lynching case were acquitted by the lower court, which is unfortunate.”
“If the government had been alert in providing justice to the victim’s family… had it been possible, perhaps never,” her tweet read.
The All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), a peasants’ organisation backed by the Communist Party of India (Marxist), has also written to chief minister Ashok Gehlot urging him to appeal against the lower court’s judgment in the high court. “The court verdict in Pehlu Khan case is the result of failure of Rajasthan police in collecting evidence,” said Amra Ram, AIKS national vice-president and a former legislator of the CPI(M).
He said everyone knows that Khan purchased cattle from Jaisinghpur, of which he had receipt but he was beaten to death. Above all, cases were registered against him and those who were accompanying him, which is unjustified.
The CPI(M) leader alleged that the suspects named by Khan were declared innocent by police after preliminary probe, while a few more were booked to make a weak case. The police also acted irresponsibly in collecting evidence, he said. The AIKS demands that the government make an appeal in the high court and provide justice to Khan’s family, said Amra Ram.
Expressing shock over court’s order, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra tweeted, “The decision of the Lower Court in the Pehlu Khan case is shocking. There should be no place of inhumanity in our country and murder by mob is a heinous crime.”
In another tweet she stated, “The Rajasthan government’s initiative to enact a law against mob killing is commendable. Hopefully a good example of this will be set by providing justice in the Pehlu Khan case.”
The Rajasthan assembly had on August 5 passed a bill providing for life imprisonment and a fine up to Rs 5 lakh to convicts in cases of mob lynching involving the victim’s death.