JAIPUR: In a crucial verdict in the Pehlu Khan lynching case, two minors have been given a sentence of three years by the Juvenile Justice Board [JJB] in Rajasthan's Alwar district. Last week, the JJB's principal magistrate, Sarita Dhakad had found both the minors guilty of being involved in Pehlu Khan's mob lynching that led to his death.
The minors will be kept confined at a government Juvenile Home for three years.
The latest judgement is very different from the Alwar trial court verdict in August 2019 in which they were given the benefit of doubt while the rest of the six accused in the lynching of Pehlu Khan - who along with a few others were transporting cows from Jaipur - were acquitted.
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A frenzy mob had killed Pehlu Khan on the suspicion of cow smuggling in the year 2017 but the lower court had held that no charges were proved against the accused.
Pehlu's advocate, Qasim Khan says the decision now by the JJB will play a crucial role in getting the 6 others also convicted.
"We believe that after this judgement, the 6 accused let off earlier will be punished as well. They got off due to the negligence of the police and weak counsel but this time we have hope," he added.
However, the Amicus Curiae from the defence side, Adarsh Yadav disagrees with the judgement and says the minors were punished due to government pressure. "We will appeal in the session court as the children's rights have been ignored. The 2 members in JJB have been appointed by the government. The minors were photographed in a mob of 100 people and 6 accused were let off.
They can't be termed guilty just on the basis of being present in the photograph. The identification by the injured victims was not done. The government wants to punish these kids so that the earlier judgement looks weak," he added.
Defence councel in the ADJ Court Hukum Chand Sharma said the judgement of the JJB juvenile court will have no bearing on the main case, in which his clients have already been acquitted last year.
However, in Jaipur, the additional advocate general RP Singh who will argue on behalf of the government in the high court called the JJB's ruling an important development and said, "We will definitely use it during the review petition."
Earlier, the Principal Magistrate of the Juvenile Justice Board, Sarita Dhakad, while completing the hearing last Thursday had held both the minors guilty on the basis of prosecution evidence.
On Saturday afternoon, the board took up the matter for a decision but both parties did not appear before the board.
The Principal Magistrate then fixed March 13 as the date for pronouncement of judgement of the case and ordered the two to appear compulsorily.
Pehlu Khan, a dairy farmer from Nuh district of Haryana, his two sons and a few others were attacked by group of cow vigilantes near Behror on April 1 , 2017.
Pehlu died in the Hospital on April 4. Seven cases had been registered - one against Pehlu and his sons and six others against the mob which lynched them. There were a total of nine accused in the case including the two minors who are now convicted.
The acquittals last year had created a hue and cry following which the Gehlot government had constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the case in 2017.
SIT was constituted under the state's ADGP (crime) to identify the lapses in the investigation and fix responsibility on individual officers who conducted the investigation.
On the basis of the SIT report, the main evidence in the Pehlu Khan Lynching case is now likely to get stronger.