The Rajasthan government today said it will re-examine the Pehlu Khan case, in which a district court acquitted the six men accused of thrashing the dairy farmer on suspicion of cattle smuggling two years ago. Pehlu Khan, whose beating was captured on a mobile phone video used by Rajasthan police to identify his attackers, died of his injuries three days later.
The state government is setting up a Special Investigation Team or SIT that will look at police lapses in the investigation.
In explaining its judgement, the Alwar district court, which gave the accused the benefit of doubt, highlighted the fact they had not been named in Pehlu Khan's statement; the names were added two years later. The court also pointed out that an identification parade had not been held.
The disturbing assault video, which went viral, was also rejected as evidence with the court criticising the police for not seizing the phone on which the video was shot.
There were also contradictory reports, the court felt, on how Pehlu Khan died. While the post-mortem said he died of his injuries, doctors at the government hospital said a heart attack was the cause.
The Congress-led state government's decision to re-examine the case will likely mean a new probe, the details of which have yet to be revealed.
After Wednesday's judgement, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot posted on a message on Twitter, stating the state government would appeal against the Alwar district court's order and that his administration was committed to ensuring justice for Pehlu Khan and his family.
Our State Government has enacted law against mob lynching in first week of August 2019.— Ashok Gehlot (@ashokgehlot51) August 14, 2019
We are committed to ensuring justice for family of late Sh Pehlu Khan.
State Government will file appeal against order of ADJ.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra posted a message on Twitter today, expressing shock over the district court's verdict and backing the state government to secure justice for Pehlu Khan and his family.
"The lower court decision in the Pehlu Khan case is shocking. There should be no place for inhumaneness in our country and the murder by a mob is a heinous crime," Priyanka Gandhi Vadra wrote in Hindi.
In a cruel twist of fate, the Rajasthan government just passed an anti-lynching bill in the recently concluded Assembly session. Under the Rajasthan Protection from Lynching Bill, 2019, those found guilty could be imprisoned for life and face fines up to Rs 5 lakh.
However, the bill cannot be applied retrospectively, meaning it has no relevance to the Pehlu Khan case.
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