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Our Muslim identity is making it difficult for us to get justice, says Pehlu’s son Arif Khan

Alwar/Jaipur: On the eve of Independence Day, when the news of all six accused in Pehlu Khan’s lynching case being acquitted reached Haryana’s Nuh district, a sense of dejection set it. The family of Pehlu Khan, which has been running from pillar to post, seeking justice in the April 2017 case, in which Pehlu, a 55-year-old dairy farmer was lynched by a mob comprising Hindu extremists, on suspicion of cattle smuggling, is devastated with the news of the acquittal of all the six accused.

A total of nine people, based on the lynching video that went viral had been charge-sheeted. Three of the nine accused are minors and are being tried at a juvenile court. Speaking to eNewsroom, from Nuh, Rafiq Khan, brother of Pehlu, who was also attacked by the lynch mob on April 1, 2017, said, “We are shocked with the verdict. These people are rich and have political patronage and hence have been let off by the law. We will appeal before a high court to challenge this verdict.”

Meanwhile, Pehlu’s son Arif Khan, said, “It seems like no one killed my father. He died on his own. He wasn’t even lynched. Since 2017, we have been running from pillar to post seeking justice. But it seems like no one is ready to believe our story, simply because we are Muslims. Had we been from the majority community, I am sure that we would have got justice. It’s painful to see all the killers of my father being let off. We are losing our faith in the Indian judiciary.”

He added, “We had great hope from the present Congress government of Rajasthan. We believed that we might get justice under a less communally charged political party. But it seems like they are also playing the same majority appeasement card. My father was lynched under the BJP government, but the charge sheet was made when Congress came in power, but just see the irony, instead of making a strong case against the accused, we including my dead father have been charge-sheeted. Now, that the accused have been acquitted, we will have to fight the case to prove that we, who had accompanied our father on that fateful day, are not cow smugglers.”

On being asked about the Rajasthan government passing the anti-lynching law, Rafiq, emotionally said, “All that we know is that in this country poor will always be denied of justice. All the accused are from the majority community and are financially well off, so they have bought their freedom. We are poor Muslims, so getting justice will be difficult for us.”

Despite the duo being dejected by the court’s verdict maintained that they would be knocking the doors of a higher court seeking justice. Speaking about the verdict Asad Hayat, one of the legal advisors of Pehlu’s family said, “Fair investigation forms the base of getting justice. In this case, the investigation was unfair. Also, the court refused to summon the NDTV reporter who had done a sting operation in which one of the accused had described how he had lynched Pehlu Khan in Behror. We had appealed before the court under section 311 of IPC, but the court refused to call the reporter or seek their recording by simply stating that media recording is not admissible.”

He further added, “We are yet to get a copy of the judgement. Tomorrow is a holiday, we shall now be getting it on Friday. But just let me highlight, one thing, which makes this case different from the two lynching cases of Jharkhand where the courts held the accused guilty of their crime. In this case, the identification parade was conducted within the court, before the honourable judge. Secondly, in this case, the investigation was not fair.”

Meanwhile, Qasim Khan, lawyer of Pehlu Khan and his family, said, “The charge sheet had been weakened to benefit the culprits. The viral video which formed the basis of the case and was also the primary evidence, in this case, had somehow been destroyed. The 70 odd pictures that the police had got from the same video was presented as secondary evidence before the court. This perhaps made the judge give the accused the benefit of doubt in this case. Needless to say, we are unhappy with the judgment and shall be challenging it before a higher court.”

However, Pehlu’s son pointed out that this perhaps would be the last appeal before the court. “We have already spent a lot of money. We are now scared to pursue our dairy farming business. Because of our Muslim identity, it becomes easy to label us as cow smugglers.”

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