A court in Rajasthan’s Alwar acquitted six people in the 2017 lynching of Pehlu Khan on Wednesday.
Additional District and Session Judge Sarita Tyagi acquitted Vipin, Ravindar, Dayanand, Kaluram, Bhim Singh Rathi, and Yogesh Dholiya giving them the benefit of the doubt.
Alwar Superintendent of Police Parish Deshmukh told the Tribune police would have to go through the court’s verdict before they decided on whether to appeal the case to a higher court.
Some self-styled cow vigilantes had allegedly brutally beaten up Khan, a 55-year-old native of Nuh in Haryana, near Behror in Rajasthan on the Delhi-Alwar highway on April 1, 2017, on the suspicion that he was smuggling cattle.
Later, a video clip surfaced on social media purportedly showing a group of men beating them.
Khan died of his injuries on April 3. The incident was recorded on camera.
Police had registered a case of murder; attempt to commit culpable homicide; unlawful assembly; and theft with the Behrod Thana. It also registered another case under the Rajasthan Bovine Animal (Prohibition of Slaughter and Regulation of Temporary Migration or Export) Act, 1995.
Pehlu Khan's son Irshad Khan said, "I am not happy with court decision and will appeal in the higher court."Prosecution lawyer Qasim Khan also said there will be in an appeal in the higher court."We are hopeful of getting justice,” he said.
Later, Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Rajeeva Swaroop told that the state government has decided to file an appeal before the High Court.
Defence lawyer Hukum Chand Sharma called the Alwar court decision “historic” and a “slap on the face” of people who he said were doing politics over it.
Then BJP government in Rajasthan under Vasundhara Raje had come under flak over the killing, with the incident escalating the debate over Muslims facing attacks from cow vigilantes.
Leader of Opposition in Rajasthan Assembly Gulab Chand Kataria said the previous BJP government had taken whatever action it could when the Pehlu Khan case took place.
“But the matter was given a colour and raised in the entire country."
Recently, the Rajasthan Assembly passed a bill, introduced by the current Ashok Gehlot-led Congress government in the state, to tackle mob lynching.
In April 2017, along with the FIR against the people who allegedly lynched Pehlu Khan, the police had also registered a case related to cattle smuggling against his two sons and a truck operator.
The Gehlot government faced criticism recently after a charge sheet was filed in that case.
The police then approached the court, saying it wanted to reinvestigate the cattle smuggling charge, a plea that the court accepted.
Apart from the six men acquitted on Wednesday and the three minors, the police initially investigated the role of six others in Pehlu Khan's lynching.
Those six men were given a clean chit by the police in September 2017.
The charge sheet was filed in the court of ADJ-Behror on February 25, 2018. The case was later shifted to the Alwar court.