Pehlu Khan lynching: Rajasthan-government forms SIT to probe investigation's lapses
Two days after six men, accused of lynching Pehlu Khan, were acquitted, the state Congress government, led by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, formed a three-member Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe lapses in the police investigation. Khan was lynched in Rajasthan in 2017 by vigilantes who accused him of being a cow smuggler; the brutal assault was even caught on camera. Here's more.
55-year-old Khan and his two sons were thrashed on Delhi-Jaipur Highway in April 2017. The video which went viral showed cow vigilantes pulling him out of a truck, holding him by his neck, and assaulting him whilst he pleaded for mercy. A few days later, he died. Shockingly, an Alwar court gave "benefit of doubt" to the accused, and let them walk free.
In her verdict, Additional District Judge Sarita Swami noted police did a shoddy job. The clip, the most crucial piece of evidence, wasn't admissible in court, and the six accused weren't made to go through an identification parade. Defense lawyer Hukum Chand Sharma boasted that the case against Khan and his sons, in which they were charge-sheeted for being cattle smugglers, bolstered his arguments.
Khan was lynched when BJP was in power in the state, the saffron party was criticized and cornered over its "anti-minority" stance. But Congress, which won the December 2018 elections, showed it was no different and was questioned after the travesty of justice. Pushed against the wall, the government constituted an SIT.
The SIT will be headed by DIG (Special Operations Group) Nitin Deep Blaggan. It will include SP (crime branch) Sameer Kumar Singh and Additional SP (vigilance) Sameer Kumar Dubey. Additional DGP (crime) BL Soni will supervise the SIT. The team has been tasked with collecting evidence which initial probe teams failed to collect. Further, a senior lawyer will challenge the acquittals in court.
Notably, the decision to constitute an SIT was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Gehlot at his office. The SIT has been directed to submit its report within 15 days. Expressing disappointment at lower court's verdict, Gehlot tweeted that his government would challenge the same. Meanwhile, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also said she was shocked with the judgment.
पहलू खान मामले में लोअर कोर्ट का फैसला चौंका देने वाला है। हमारे देश में अमानवीयता की कोई जगह नहीं होनी चाहिए और भीड़ द्वारा हत्या एक जघन्य अपराध है।— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) August 16, 2019
Separately, BSP Chief Mayawati slammed Congress for failing to bring Khan's alleged killers to justice. "Due to the gross negligence and inaction of the Congress government, all the six accused in Pehlu Khan mob-lynching case were acquitted by the court, which is unfortunate. If the government had been alert in providing justice to the victim's family... had it been possible, perhaps never," she tweeted.