Lynching victim Pehlu Khan's sons charge sheeted for cow smuggling

Alwar: Two years after Haryana resident Pehlu Khan was lynched by cow vigilantes in Rajasthan's Alwar district, police here have filed a charge sheet against his two sons and a truck operator for illegally transporting cattle. The issue triggered a row with AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi charging that the Congress in power is a "replica of BJP". Owaisi was reacting to earlier reports that Pehlu Khan was also charge sheeted. Although the case goes back to April 2017 when the BJP was in power in the state, the charge sheet is being filed months after the Congress took over. "The charge sheet was accepted by the court on May 24 against three persons under the Rajasthan Bovine Animal Act. Since Pehlu Khan has died, he has not been chargesheeted," Alwar Superintendent of Police Anil Paris Deshmukh told PTI.

However, Pehlu Khan's name was mentioned in a summary of the case in the charge sheet, and he was among those booked under the state's anti-cow smuggling law. The document mentions his name in the column of accused who are “not charge sheeted”. It makes clear that this is because he is now dead. Police maintained that the case against Pehlu Khan, his sons Irshad Khan (25) Aarif Khan (22) and truck operator Khan Mohammad stood proved in the investigation. They were charged under the Rajasthan Bovine Animal (Prohibition of Temporary Migration or Export) Act, 1995.

Pehlu Khan and his sons were thrashed by a mob on the suspicion of cow smuggling in Alwar's Behror on Aprli 1, 2017. Khan died at a hospital in Alwar on April 3. The Rajasthan Police arrested seven men and detained two minors for the attack. At the same time, a case was also registered against Pehlu Khan and his companions under the Rajasthan Bovine Animal Act, which allows the transportation of cattle only after getting permission from the administration. Police had then booked 16 people for illegally transporting 36 animals in six vehicles.

They were on their way to Nuh district in Haryana from Jaipur when the cow vigilantes stopped two of the vehicles in Behror on the Jaipur-Delhi national highway, thrashing Pehlu Khan and his sons. Amid the row over the latest charge sheet, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot on Saturday distanced himself from any role in the investigation. "Investigation into the case was done during the BJP rule. If any discrepancy is found, we will get the case re-investigated," he said. "The Congress has not changed its stand on the issue," he added, saying those who indulge in such killings on the pretext of "gau raksha" won't be spared. Later, the CM tweeted that this was a case separate from the one related to the lynching, and was registered and investigated under the previous government. Since the three accused named in the chargesheet were not present at the time of its submission in December 2018, the district court accepted the "challan" on May 24, he said. "However, our government will see if the investigation was done with predetermined intentions," he tweeted.

Earlier, former BJP MLA Gyan Deo Ahuja said Pehlu Khan and the other accused were involved in the smuggling of cows, which was "proved" in the police investigation. Altogether, seven FIRs were registered with the Behror police station after the April 2017 attack -- six under the anti-cow smuggling law and one for Pehlu Khan's murder. In the murder case, the charge sheet was filed on February 25, 2018, police said. Meanwhile, former BJP MLA Gyandev Ahuja said that Pehlu Khan was a habitual criminal and was indulged in cow smuggling. Also, as the controversy continues to rage over whether Pehlu Khan was charge-sheeted or not, his son Irsad Khan said that he was hoping to get justice from CM Ashok Gehlot led Congress government in Rajasthan.

- Prakash Bhandari

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