Investigations into the death of Pehlu Khan, a dairy farmer who was allegedly beaten to death in April this year, has found none of the six suspects to be guilty, the Hindustan Times reported.
Khan, who had gone to a cattle fair in Jaipur, was returning his home state Haryana, when he and his son were stopped by self-styled cow vigilantes on the way. The latter attacked Khan for illegally transporting cattle, though it was later revealed that he did have the required permit, and accused him of ferrying the animals for slaughter.
Two days after the assault, Khan died in a hospital, but not before naming the suspected killers to the police. A probe began into the incident, after an ugly controversy played out in public, with Rajasthan Home Minister GC Kataria apportioning blame for the death to both parties involved. Matters went bad enough for Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje to step in for some belated damage control by promising fair enquiry into the tragedy.
Investigations by the Crime Investigation Department-Crime Branch (CID-CB) have now found the six men — Om Yadav (45), Hukum Chand Yadav (44), Sudhir Yadav (45), Jagmal Yadav (73), Naveen Sharma (48) and Rahul Saini (24) — not guilty of the crime.
Employees of the nearby Rath Gaushala and alleged members of Hindu right-wing groups, the men, whose names Khan and his son claim to have heard on the fateful day they were attacked, were not in spot, the police said, based on records of their cell phones and witnesses who say the men were at the gaushala the day Khan was lynched.
"These six men started the attack and were present there. As we were being thrashed, I heard them call each other's name. One was saying Hukum, drag the men down here and break the pickup truck," Irshad, Khan's son who was injured in the assault, told HT.
A case, however, will continue against nine others identified from a video footage of the incident, two of whom are absconding.
India has been a rise in incidents of cow vigilantism since the Narendra Modi government was elected to the Centre in 2014. Recently, after a 15-year-old boy was killed on the suspicion of being a "beef-eater" during a brawl on a train, widespread public outrage erupted in cities across India.
PM Modi has urged right-wing Hindutva followers not to indulge in such mindless violence several times but to no avail. Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat also made a public appeal, more recently, saying that Hinduism doesn't involve judging people by what they choose to eat or wear.
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