Alwar: The son of Pehlu Khan, a 55-year-old dairy farmer who was lynched by cow vigilantes in Rajasthan in April this year, has said he will appeal in court against the state police's decision to remove the names of six men as suspects in his father's murder.
Pehlu Khan had named six men as his attackers in a dying declaration in hospital. In a report, the state police's Criminal Investigation Department has said its investigations showed that six of the men were not involved in the attack and it removed their names from the first information report. For six months since the attack, these men were missing with a 5000 rupee reward on the head of each. That reward is now being withdrawn.
The state CID-Crime Branch, which took over investigations in July, has concluded that the six men were not present when Pehlu Khan was attacked. The police have said that these six men are also not seen in photos or video footage of the attack and that their mobile phone records show they were about 4 km away during the attack.
Nine other men will be tried for Mr Khan's murder. Seven of those were identified from the cellphone video; two others were added to the case later.
Irshad Khan, Pehlu Khan's son who was with him when he was attacked, told NDTV, "I was with my father, these men called out to each other by name. These six men were stopped us first and began beating us up."
Mr Khan accused the police of trying to protect the men, who he alleged belong to right-wing organisations affiliated to the BJP, Rajasthan's ruling party. "The police is trying to prove my father's dying declaration false...We will not give up, we will move the Supreme Court," he said.
On April 1 this year, Pehlu Khan and his two sons were transporting cows that they had bought at a cattle fair in state capital Jaipur to their home in Haryana. They were stopped on the Jaipur-Delhi National Highway by cow vigilantes and were severely beaten up. A cellphone video showed Pehlu Khan being yanked by the neck, thrown to the ground and kicked. Mr Khan died in hospital two days later.
"We showed them papers (to prove they were not smuggling cows), but they tore them up and began beating us up," Irshad Khan said. "They killed my father in front of me, there is no point in my being alive. In the last six months these six men were not even arrested and now they have been acquitted," he said.
The police had arrested seven people after the attack based on video footage; all but two were released on bail. The six men whose names have been removed as suspects are Om Yadav, Hukum Chand Yadav, Sudhir Yadav, Jagmal Yadav, Naveen Sharma and Rahul Saini. Jagmal Yadav owns a cow shelter about 4 km from the spot where Pehlu Khan was beaten and to which the cows that Pehlu Khan was transporting were taken.
After Pehlu Khan's death, the police had filed a case of cattle smuggling against the dairy farmer. His son had showed them the bill of purchase, but he did not have permission to transport cattle out of Rajasthan to another state, the police said.
Later in April, after a letter of protest from bureaucrats and civil society activists, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje said "such activities won't be tolerated in Rajasthan". Her minister Gulab Chand Kataria had earlier described the attack as "manhandling".