Lynching cases are on the rise in the country. One such incident took place on July 20 when 28-year-old Rakbar Khan was allegedly lynched by a cow vigilante group in Rajasthan’s Alwar. On Monday, four policemen faced action amid complaints of lapses on their part. The matter escalated so much that a petition was filed in Supreme Court which agreed to hear a contempt plea against the Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government in Rajasthan for failing to check such incidents.

So why was Rakbar Khan lynched to death?

Rakbar was the sole breadwinner of his family. Hailing from Haryana’s Mewat district, Khan had gone to Lalavandi village (in Rajasthan’s Alwar district). Rakbar, along with his friend Aslam, were taking cows to their villages in Haryana through a forest area in Ramgarh area of Alwar, where they caught by a group of people. While Aslam managed to flee from there, Rakbar was allegedly beaten by brutally by the group on suspicion of cow smuggling. But later talking to reporters, Aslam denied being involved in cow smuggling.

Meanwhile, the investigation has revealed an old 2014 case against Rakbar under a section prohibiting the export of bovine animals for slaughter, police told PTI.

A social worker in the region, Vijay Kumar, told IANS that Akbar and Aslam were taking bovines from the fields at midnight. When the animals cried out, some villagers came out and thrashed Akbar. As it was raining heavily, Akbar fell on the muddy field and his companion Aslam escaped. By then, police reached the spot after being alerted about the attack.

However, as the victim was covered in mud, the police refused to take him in their vehicle and asked the villagers to clean him. The villagers poured water on him. Dharmendra, who was later taken as an accused by the police, brought clothes from his house. Vijay Kumar also said that the policemen were drunk and they too might have beaten him as the victim had earlier records of cow smuggling.

The police negligence

As per the FIR, Naval Kishore Sharma, the chief of VHP’s local ‘Gau Raksha’ cell had reported the incident to the police at 12.41 am on Saturday and the police reached the spot at around 1 am, recorded Akbar’s statement and took him to the police station. However, surprisingly, the police reached the hospital at 4 am. The post-mortem report says the victim died at 3.40 a.m.

The suspicion

According to reports, on the way to the hospital, the police gave him a bath, arranged vehicles to transport the seized cows, took him to a police station and even stopped for tea. The cows, meanwhile, were shifted to a ‘gaushala’ at 3.26 a.m. in a three-wheeler — just before the man died.

Photo of the victim surfaces

A photograph of Rakbar Khan has turned the spotlight on the role of the police in the matter. The photograph shows him sitting upright inside a police car, which suggests that he was fine after his arrest and before he was taken to the police station — the last stop before he was taken to the hospital at 4 am. According to NDTV, the photo was circulated by one Naval Kishore, the man who had placed a call to the police about the attack and accompanied them for the most part of their three-hour journey through the area before Rakbar Khan was taken to the hospital — dead.

A high-level team appointed to probe

A high-level team, set up by the Rajasthan Police on Monday to probe why policemen took three hours to reach a hospital only four kilometres away with a badly injured man accused of smuggling cows, admitted local personnel made an “error of judgement”. An Assistant Sub-Inspector was suspended for the undue delay and action taken against four constables.

The police have arrested three persons suspected to be involved in the attack on Rakbar, alias Akbar Khan, even as a video surfaced on Monday purportedly showing an assistant sub-inspector admitting to his mistake for alleged delay in taking the victim to the hospital.

Government shaken up

The Home Ministry asked the Rajasthan government to provide details of the incident, the action taken to punish those involved in it and the steps taken to restore peace, an official said. The report has been sought as early as possible.

(Inputs from Agencies)

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