Independent investigation revealed that the accused named in Pehlu Khan’s “dying declaration” were not arrested and police failed to defend the arrests they made in court, as five of the seven got out on bail.
Abdul Bari Masoud | Caravan Daily
NEW DELHI — While releasing an Investigative Report that revealed how the Rajasthan Police sabotaged and weakened the Pehlu Khan murder case, prominent human and civil rights activists, lawyers and family members of Pehlu Khan on Thursday resolved that they would work jointly to bring all the perpetrators of lynching cases to justice. They said Pehlu Khan’s murder is a test case how the Rajasthan Police let-off the main accused named by the deceased in his dying declaration and even made Khan an accused of his own killing.
The report was released in presence of Khan’s family at the Press Club of India here. Speaking to the media, Pehlu Khan’s elder son Irshad Khan said his family has lost all the hope in the Rajasthan government and the police as they did not get justice from them. Irshad was also accompanying his father when so-called cow vigilantes attacked them. He contradicted all claims made by the police in the case. When Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria lies, then how can we get justice, therefore, the case should be transferred to another state, he said. Our family is determined to bring the culprits to the book and is ready to pay with our lives for this, he added.
Senior journalist Ajit Sahi, who prepared the report of the case, said it is a testing case of how the police and state governments are blatantly flouting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s instructions, who on three occasions had pronounced that self-styled gau-rakshaks would not be allowed to indulge in violence.
Activist and journalist Teesta Setalvad on the occasion said, “We will chart out our strategy for the opening of a fresh investigation into Pehlu’s case as police and administration have done every bit to sabotage it.” She stressed the need of constituting a joint committee of civil society groups for fighting such cases. Announcing that a protest petition will be filed in the Pehlu Khan case, Teesta added the National Commission for Minorities and National Human Rights Commission have the mandate to intervene in such cases but they remain silent. She also pointed out that the government is not presenting the true facts about lynching incidents in Parliament. We need to inform about this to the Opposition as well as the ruling party members of Parliament, she added.
Noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan warned that the country is heading towards fascism. He called “the gau-rakshaks as official goons who have recognition and protection from the BJP-led state governments and the police” because of which they have no fear of the law.
Demanding that the Kailash Hospital’s license should be revoked immediately for providing false post-mortem report in the case, Bhushan said a similar pattern can be found in each lynching case. The hospital is run by Union Minister Mahesh Sharma’s company.
Recalling the Nazi Germany’ history, Bhushan said the same is happening in India as the RSS storm-troopers attacked people, particularly Muslims and the police tried to save them.
Seconding his view, another noted lawyer Colin Gonsalves called upon all activists and civil society groups to jointly fight such cases as there is tremendous pressure on the victims to withdraw the cases. We have documented 30 cases across the country and found similar types of action by the police, he said and adding that there is a need to bring political and religious leaders to justice who instigates such crimes.
The investigative report stated that “the cover-up began at the filing the First Information Report (FIR) itself. Before Pehlu Khan died, he clearly named six men as his attackers. These men were Om Yadav, Hukum Chand Yadav, Sudhir Yadav, Jagmal Yadav, Naveen Sharma and Rahul Saini. This statement later became his ‘dying declaration’ and ought to have been accepted as such. But the police did not include these six names in the FIR. Subsequently, the police claimed that none of these men was even present at the crime scene during the lynching. This virtual clean chit ensured that Pehlu’s attackers got bail despite their heinous crime.
Pehlu Khan was killed on a busy highway in Rajasthan by a mob of self-proclaimed cow protectors. Now in an exclusive investigation, senior investigative journalist Ajit Sahi has discovered that this was, in fact, a murder. He has also found that the police sabotaged the investigation and engaged in an elaborate cover-up which weakened the case against the gau-rakshaks.
The glaring examples of the cover-up are as below:
* Delaying FIR registrations without any explanation
* Not invoking appropriate IPC sections for conspiracy, attempt to murder, destruction of evidence and dacoity etc.
* Invoking IPC sections for lesser crimes, such as wrongful restraint and causing hurt, with smaller punishment.
* Failure to arrest the accused named in the dying declaration
* Exonerating the named accused on dubious testimonies
* Failure to arrest any attackers from the crime scene
* Failure to defend arrests leading to the accused getting bail
The Former Additional Solicitor General Indira Jaising, Prof Manisha Sethi, student leader Umar Khalid and Shehla Rashid from Chicago and Sarbjit Johal from London also addressed the media persons. The report findings point to the willful, deliberate and gross mismanagement of the case and suggest that a miscarriage of justice is possible in this matter.
The report, which is titled “How the police are protecting the murderers of Pehlu Khan”, was endorsed by Alliance for Justice and Accountability, New York, Citizens for Justice and Peace, Mumbai, Dalit American Coalition, New York, Human Rights Law Network, New Delhi, Indian American Muslim Council, Washington, D.C., Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association, New Delhi, South Asia Solidarity Group, London and South Asian Solidarity Initiative, New York.
See the Full Report Below