A day after six persons — Hukum Chand, Om Prakash, Sudhir Yadav, Rahul Saini, Navin Sharma and Jagmal Yadav — were cleared of all charges in the brutal lynching of a 55-year-old dairy farmer in Rajasthan, his shocked son is trying to come to terms with the decision he calls a "betrayal."
Pehlu Khan, along with his son and others, were coming back from a cattle fair when they were attacked by so-called gau rakshaks, cow vigilantes who have repeatedly taken the law into their hands presumably to stop cattle smuggling, in Alwar on 1 April. Khan died of his injuries two days later.
Khan's death stirred up public outrage especially during a time when several such incidents were coming to light from across the northern states in the name of cow protection — a scheme that the ruling BJP government favours. The reason why the six were let off, the police say, is based on statements of those present at the scene of the crime, photographs and mobile phone location records. Nine others will continue to face criminal charges in connection with Khan's killing.
"They were the ones who mobilized the mob and started the assault. How could they not be guilty?"
However, Khan's son Irshad told the Hindustan Times that the six were among those who stopped their vehicles. "They were the ones who mobilized the mob and started the assault. How could they not be guilty?"
"Be it, Hukum Yadav or Sudhir Yadav, we heard all the accused calling each other by their names when they were assaulting us. They kept saying 'beat these Muslims, they are cattle smugglers'," Irshad told HT.
His mother has suffered a paralytic attack.
He now vows to continue the fight till Pehlu Khan gets justice.