JAIPUR: The judgement of Pehlu Khan mob lynching case, where six people were acquitted on 14th August, has raised several questions. The video of Pehlu Khan being beaten had become viral but it was not admitted as evidence in the court because it had not gone through forensic authentication. It is even more baffling as the video was seen by millions but the accused were released just days after Mob Lynching Act was passed in the state legislative Assembly which had strict punishment of even life imprisonment for those found guilty. PUCL( Public Union of Civil Liberties ) has condemned the police investigation and targeted the previous Vasundhara Raje Government for the shoddy investigation that took place in their tenure.
The biggest question is that if it was not the people seen in the video beating the Pehlu Khan then how did he die? All six accused in the Pehlu Khan lynching case got the benefit of doubt due to "serious shortcomings" in the police probe, the Alwar court observed while acquitting them on Wednesday. The additional district judge (ADJ) said one such loophole was that their names were not in the statements given by Pehlu Khan and other complainants.
Pehlu Khan (55), a resident of Jaisinghpura village in Nuh district in Haryana, was allegedly attacked in the Behror area on Jaipur-Delhi highway in Rajasthan on April 1, 2017.He died during treatment at the hospital two days later. In September 2017, the Rajasthan Police had given a clean chit to six other people--Hukum Chand, Om Prakash, Sudhir Yadav, Rahul Saini, Navin Sharma and Jagmal Yadav--who were named by Pehlu Khan in his statement before death.They were given the clean chit on the basis of photographs, their mobile phone locations and the statement of those present at the crime spot.
1. ADJ Sarita Swamy has said in her judgement that the investigation officer Ramesh Sinsinawar filed the report in the police station 16 hours after recording Pehlu Khan's statement.
2. The names taken by Pehlu Khan are not present in the investigation.
3. No proof was submitted in the court about the investigation against those named in the Pehlu Khan's statement
4. The investigation officer did not confiscate the mobile phone which recorded the video of the incident and is a big lapse in the investigation.
5. How did the policeman go to take Pehlu Khan's statement without the permission of the doctor?
6. The doctors at the private hospital said he died of a heart attack but the post mortem said he succumbed to the injuries received due to beating. Why this contradiction?
7. When was the video received by the police from the source ?
8. Why wasn't there an FSL investigation for the mobile and the memory card?
9. The police did not initiate an identification parade to identify the accused. Why was the incident reported in two places in the charge sheet?
Legal experts also believe that there were many lacunae in the police investigation which led to the acquittal of the accused, also a lot depends on the role of the public prosecutor, not of the judge . "The judge decides on the basis of the evidence but the public prosecutor should be more dedicated. He should have given more importance to Pehlu Khan's statement," said Retd. Justice .V. S. Dave , Rajasthan High Court .
The civil society organization reacting sharply on the outcome of the verdict has said that the acquittal of the 6 accused in the Pehlu Khan murder case is a Travesty of Justice. PUCL ( Public Union of Civil Liberties ) have criticised former CM Vasundhra Raje and Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria in whose tenure the slipshod police investigation took place.
"The PUCL is shocked at the judgement delivered by the Additional District Judge, Alwar, in the Pehlu Khan Murder case, acquitting all the accused. It is unfortunate that in a black and white case like this one, the court has acquitted all on grounds of benefit of doubt. Rajasthan Police needs to be condemned for deliberately filing a weak chargesheet and cases of criminal negligence needs to be filed against the concerned officials. Such acquittals give impunity to those killing in the name of cow. It is our demand that the prosecution immediately file an appeal in the Rajasthan High Court, Jaipur", they said.
"The PUCL would firstly like to condemn the deliberate slipshod investigation undertaken by the Rajasthan police, under the then State Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and HM Gulab Chand Kataria. Although two charge sheets were filed, one on 31st May 2017 and the other on 28th October 2017, however, they left out important existing evidence. It is our belief that this judgement will only end up emboldening those who take law in their hands, like the so called Gau Rakshaks, who will now carry out targeted attacks on Muslims, with impunity. It is also disheartening, that if this be the trend of judgements, then no person lynched in the name of the cow, will ever get justice." reads the release by PUCL
Meanwhile, Rajasthan CM Ashok Gehlot has said that his government is committed to getting Pehlu Khan and his family justice. " Our state government has enacted law against mob lynching in the first week of August 2019. we are committed to ensuring justice for family of late Shri Pehlu khan. State government will file appeal against order of ADJ." tweeted Gehlot.