NEWS

The Last-Minute Decision That Cost Dairy Farmer Pehlu Khan His Life

His killers — the so-called gau rakshaks — are roaming free, while his family faces police cases.

06/04/2017 11:39 AM IST | Updated 06/04/2017 2:41 PM IST
Getty Images
Cows are seen in the back of a truck that a local 'cow vigilante' group chased down on November 8, 2015 in Ramgarh, Rajasthan, India.

Pehlu Khan, a 55-year-old dairy farmer from Rajasthan, wanted to get a milch buffalo from the cattle fair. However, when the seller at the fair extracted 12 litres of milk in front of him from a milch cow, it swayed his decision - one that would later cost him his life at the hands of so called 'gau rakshaks' on his way back to his village in Jaisinghpur, in Nuh tehsil of Mewat.

His son Irshad told the Indian Express that "it was the worst decision ever."

Irshad, 24, and his brother, Aarif, were in a separate truck on National Highway 8 on Saturday evening when their father's vehicle was stopped near Alwar by members of the cow protection unit, one of dozens of hard line vigilante groups whose members patrol highways to catch smugglers illegally transporting cows for slaughter.

Irshad recalled how the 'gau rakshaks' dragged them out of their vehicles, beat them unconscious with belts and sticks, and accused them of smuggling cattle despite repeatedly being told that they bought the cows and calves at a cattle fair and had receipts to show.

However, the so-called cow vigilantes did not just carry out murder and assault in the name of protecting cattle. They also allegedly stole the wallets and cellphones of their victims.

Strangely, instead of cracking down on such extra-judicial groups, the Rajasthan police has registered an FIR against the victim's family for illegally transporting cattle for slaughter, the paper reported, based on a complaint filed by one Damodar Singh.

However, the so-called cow vigilantes did not just carry out murder and assault in the name of protecting cattle. They also allegedly stole the wallets and cellphones of their victims.

The biggest dairy farmer in Jaisinghpur, Zakir Khan, confirmed to the paper that Pehlu Khan was a dairy farmer and not a cattle smuggler, by digging out old records that showed that Irshad and his family have been supplying milk to him for the last four years.

Notably, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had earlier expressed anger at "gau-rakshaks" who assault others in the name of cow protection. "I have seen that some people are into crimes all night and wear the garb of gau-rakshak by day," Modi had said. However his firm stand on the matter does not seem to have deterred these hooligans.

The biggest dairy farmer in Jaisinghpur, Zakir Khan, confirmed to the paper that Pehlu Khan was a dairy farmer and not a cattle smuggler, by digging out old records.

Vasundhara Raje, the chief minister of Rajasthan condoled the deaths of accident victims near Kolayat, Bikaner on Twitter. But she was silent about the death of Khan.

Home minister Gulab Chand Kataria said: "Both parties are to blame and action would be taken against all involved. Now, some cow protection squads try to stop these people as per law. But taking law into their own hands is not allowed."

"Stopping them (cow transporters) is not a sin," Kataria said, indirectly legitimising vigilantism.

According to another Express report, about an hour before the attack, the same gau rakshaks had stopped four other trucks being used to transport cows in the presence of three homeguards. When the thugs tried to attack the men in the trucks, despite being told by them that they were coming back with legitimate purchases from the cattle fair, the homeguards called up the Behror police station and cops took the four vehicles and their occupants away, perhaps saving their lives.

Meanwhile Alwar SP Rahul Prakash told the paper that a total of six cases have been filed against the four men who were with Pehlu Khan.

MORE:News

More On This Topic