Akbar Khan who was lynched by alleged “Gaurakshaks” in Alwar, Rajasthan, was actually a victim of the growing pattern of extortion in the name of cow protection. This is the direct allegation made by the Rajasthan, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) in a press release issued on July 21 from Jaipur
“It is well known that extortionists under the garb of ‘gaurakshaks’ 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.” The PUCL has collated this information from activists working at the ground level. "After having studied collectively with others activists, the lynchings in Mewat area of Rajasthan, it has become clear to the PUCL that Akbar Khan who had bought two cows from village Ladpur, Ramgarh tehsil, Alwar district and was taking back the cows in the night to his own village Kol near Firozpur Jhirka, Mewat, Haryana, was killed due to extortion. He was killed in Jungle Lalawandi, Ramgarh. It is well known that extortionists under the garb of Gaurakshaks 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."
Facts of the Case
Reportedly, Akbar Khan bought two cows from village Ladpur, Ramgarh tehsil, Alwar district and was taking the cows back in the night to his own village Kolgaon near Firozpur Jhirka in Mewat, Haryana. He was accompanied by another man, Aslam. Suddenly, a group of people started thrashing them, as per Subhash Sharma, the officer at Ramgarh police station. The murder of Akbar is the complete failure of Rajasthan government in protecting Muslims, in particular dairy farmers from the killer “Gaurakshaks”, who are basically extortionists, the statement records. The Ramgarh police brought the deceased Akbar Khan to Alwar and lodged an FIR 0321/18 under Sections 143, 341, 323, 302, 34 etc. of IPC at the police station.
Since 2017, incidents of lynching had increased pointing to the deliberate subversion of the law and order machinery. Three incidents took place in that year alone:
- May 30 2015, Abdul Gaffar Querishi, Birloka, Didwana tehsil, Nagaur district
- April 11, 2017 Pehlu Khan, Behror thana, Alwar district
- June, 16, 2017 Zafar Khan, Pratapgarh town, Pratapgarh district
- September 10, 2017 Bhagtaram Meena, neem ka thaana Sikar district.
- November 12, 2017, Umar Mohammed, a resident of Ghatmatika Pahadi, near Pahadi Kaman killed near RamgarahTehsil, Alwar
Lawlessness on the Rise
It was not merely lynching, but police encounters too had increased in frequency in cities such as Alwar, especially targeting Mev Muslims in the name of picking cows, it added. The civil rights body has also questioned the government on its inability to bring a halt to the “bloody madness” and alleged that the supposed Gaurakshaks have the full support of the police and administration. It highlighted, how Pehlu Khan’s killers roam around with impunity as his acquaintances, Azmat and Rafiq still face cases related to cow smuggling. Similarly, Zafar Khan’s killers too, are roaming scot free. Moreover, the eye witnesses in Umar’s case were lodged into jail making the cynical pattern of victims being made accused complete. Expressing concern over this prevalent culture of impunity to the killers, said, “There seems to be complete impunity to the killers, with the Home minister Gulab singh Kataria going on record that Gau Rakshaks to good work, after Pehlu khan was killed”.
All the killers named by Pehlu Khan were thrown out of the purview of investigation and cases of cow smuggling are still being faced by Pehlu khan’s companions, Azmat and Rafiq. Todate Zafar khans killers are roaming free and the eye witnesses in the Umar case were thrown into jail. In Bhagtaram’s case nothing happened, till the High Court intervened earlier this month in July. There seems to be complete impunity to the killers, with the Home minister Gulab singh Kataria going on record that Gau Rakshaks ‘do good work,’ after Pehlu khan was killed.
Among the demands made in the statement were sharp questions on whether or not the government of Rajasthan had any plans of implementing Supreme Court guidelines in which it has clearly made the Centre and the state responsible for lynching, and has said mobocracy will not be allowed. Further, it has said that all states should make nodal officers and there should be immediate arrests and filing of chargesheets as well as fast track courts and maximum punishment.
Besides there are specific demands made by PUCL:
- The transfer of the case to an independent agency, SIT or under the IG
- The arrest of Akbar Khan’s killers immediately
- The restoration of his cows to the family
- Compensation of Rs. 25 lakh and land to the family, a government job to the kin.
- Immediate protection to eye witness, Aslam be given protection.
- Ensure that no false case of cow smuggling be filed against Akbar and Aslam.
- Dismissal that the Ramgarh SHO be dismissed from duty as the onus is on the State to protect the people from lynching.
- Rajasthan Home Minister give a plan for the protection of dairy farmers particularly the Meos in Mewat region.
PUCL has I also urged that no cases related to cow smuggling should be filed against Akbar and Aslam. Moreover, that the Ramgarh SHO should be dismissed from his duty. It has asked the Home minister to give a plan for the protection of dairy farmers particularly the Mevs in Mevat region.
Finally, the PUCL has demanded from the CM that there should be an immediate halt to the cases of lynching.
Image Courtesy: Indian Express