After a court in Rajasthan acquitted all six men accused in the 2017 Pehlu Khan lynching case, Rajeeva Swarup, state Additional Chief Secretary (Home) said that government will appeal against the court’s verdict. The judge found several contradictions in the evidence presented in court and the charges were cleared on the benefit of doubt.
In April 2017, Pehlu Khan was transporting cattle with six others after buying them at a cattle fair in Jaipur to Haryana when he was stopped on the highway and brutally beaten by a group of men who suspected him of carrying beef.
The Additional Judicial Magistrate acquitted the six men, giving them benefit of the doubt, according to a lawyer. Pehlu Khan (55), his two sons and a few others were transporting cows when they were allegedly stopped and thrashed by a mob near Behror in Alwar district on April 1, 2017.
Khan died in hospital on April 3, triggering outrage over the murder and focusing attention on attacks by cow vigilantes. "The court gave benefit of the doubt to all six accused and acquitted them of lynching charges. We have not received the court order copy and will wait for it to study it and appeal in the higher court," Additional Public Prosecutor Yogendra Khatana told reporters.
The six accused let off by the court are Vipin Yadav, Ravindra Kumar, Kaluram, Dayanand, Yogesh Kumar and Bheem Rathi. Police had also named three minors in the case. They are facing facing trial in a juvenile justice court. The court of Additional District Judge Sarita Swami completed the trial proceedings on August 7 and reserved the case for judgment on Wednesday.
The then BJP government in Rajasthan under Vasundhara Raje came under flak over the killing, with the incident escalating the debate over Muslims facing attacks from cow vigilantes. Recently, the Rajasthan Assembly passed a bill introduced by the current Congress government in the state to tackle mob lynching.