Jaipur/Alwar: They were sitting out, waiting for them to arrive. The darkness of the night and the cotton crop, well hid their silhouette, as two men in their late twenties, with two cows, came treading the unbeaten path. A bullet is fired in the air. The man leading the way runs into the field, a group of men jumps out and follows his trail, unaware of the second man, who hides in the field and crawls for hours to reach a safe place alive.
Hours later, a mob-lynched body of the young man, who was later identified as Rakbar Khan alias Akbar is handed over to the police, only to be declared ‘brought dead’ by the medical experts. According to Shafique Khan, the grieving father of the victim, Akbar, had travelled all the way to Alwar Haryana from Kolgaon, to buy cows.
Muslims too rear cows
“We make a living by rearing cows and goats. We may not worship cows, but we also take care of cows. It’s our livelihood. My son, a father of seven kids, had travelled to buy the cows. We sell milk, you see. We have been aware of the fact that people are being lynched in the name of Gau Raksha. But we don’t have another alternative livelihood, so we continued buying cows for our small dairy. However, we had never thought that my son would have to face such a painful death. Every single joint of his body was broken, right from his neck to his toes, by these men,” said a grieving Khan.
On being asked if they had ever thought of giving up dairy farming or are now thinking of starting another business, he said, “We have been doing this for ages. We will continue doing this. We have two cows and my son had gone to buy goats, instead, he bought two milch cows in hope of expanding our dairy business. I continue with our work, we may be Muslims but that doesn’t mean that we can’t take care of cows. Just because we are allowed to have beef doesn’t mean that we slaughter every cow we get.”
On being asked, if it was the police who were responsible for his son’s death, as suggested by the local BJP MLA, Gyandev Ahuja, he said, “No. my son was lynched by the gau rakshak mob, which mercilessly beat him and left him lying in a puddle of mud. It was from here that the police picked up my son and took him to the hospital, where he died. My son, his dying statement has mentioned that he was lynched by six men; two of them have been arrested. We want justice.”
We are milkmen and not cow smugglers
However, on being asked about the allegation of his son being a cow smuggler, he said with a sob, “Gyandev Ahuja is spreading rumours about my son to protect his goons. However, let me very clear, we are milkmen and my son had gone to purchase cows for our dairy business.” On being asked about the politician’s claim that there an FIR had been lodged against the victim, in 2014, he said, “Well, there had been a complaint against my son on mere suspicion. Had it been a valid complaint, wouldn’t he been put behind the bars.” He then added, “Why doesn’t the lynch mob come and lynch all of Rakbar (Akbar)’s kid. We are all going to die of hunger. All our savings are gone and also our son. How will we able to fend for his children, the youngest is only two years old.”
Call the police, why lynch?
Adding to that Shameem Ahmed, a resident of Kolgaon said, “Rakbar (Akbar) being lynched to death can’t be justified on the basis of a mere suspicion of him being a cow smuggler. Even if we assume that he was, he shouldn’t have been lynched, he should have been handed over to the police and let the judiciary decide on the case. I presume, this is deliberately being done to dilute the case, as it was done with Pehlu Khan’s case.”
Gau Raksha or extortion?
Meanwhile, Jaipur Chapter of Public Union of Civil Liberty (PUCL) highlighted another existing problem that needs to be investigated. “Akbar alias Rakbar was killed in the jungle of Lalawandi, Ramgarh. It is well known that extortionists under the garb of Gau Rakshaks are roaming the streets looking for a prey. If those carrying cows are able to pay the sum demanded, then they are allowed to go or else fired at and killed. This time too this has been the case, as reported by activists from the ground level,” claimed the communiqué, issued jointly by its president Kavita Srivastava and general secretary Anant Bhatnagar
Politicians responsible for lynch culture
Another Mewati Muslim, Dr Mohammad Jamshed, hailing from Nu district of Haryana, maintained that the mobocracy won’t come to an end, despite the Supreme Court intervening, as the politicians are encouraging their foot soldiers.
“In a country, where MPs garland the accused on being granted bail or when politicians come out to justify lynching, they in a way give out a message – do what you want we are there to cushion you. Be it Pehlu, Junaid, Umar, Akhlaque, Afrazul, or any other Muslim lynched in India, the accused have been granted bail. They have been provided with government jobs. Or, as in the case of Sambhulal Regar, he became the pin-up boy of the Hindutva camps. These acknowledgements are like the dangling carrots which will make many more of these unemployed youths to wreak havoc in the name of Gau Raksha. The fact that this lynching and Swami Agnivesh’s assaults come immediately after the Apex Court’s direction to tackle mobocracy, is definitely more disturbing,” said Jamshed.