Alwar lynching: State home minister says evidence points to custodial death but case timeline raises doubts

A comparison of timeline of events in Alwar lynching presented by eyewitness and the Rakbar Khan's colleague suggest that the eyewitness and police may have known about them even before Rakbar and Aslam had reached Lalawandi village

Rangoli Agrawal July 24, 2018 08:10:38 IST
Alwar lynching: State home minister says evidence points to custodial death but case timeline raises doubts

Jaipur: Speaking on the Alwar lynching case, Rajasthan home minister Gulab Chand Kataria said that the evidence collected points to a custodial death and further investigation is underway, according to several media reports.

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, Rakbar Khan, succumbed to death as he became the seventh person in Rajasthan since April 2017 to have died of mob violence. Rakbar was allegedly beaten by a mob in Alwar on Friday night, as the crowd suspected him to be a cow smuggler.

The Ramgarh Police, with eyewitness Naval Kishore Sharma, went to the Gaushala (cow shed) to drop the cows before taking Rakbar to the closest medical help available, says Sharma, as they felt he was ‘in absolute proper’ condition.

Alwar lynching State home minister says evidence points to custodial death but case timeline raises doubts

Ramgarh Police at the site of the crime. Rangoli Agrawal/101Reporters.com

"After almost one hour of constantly questioning Rakbar in the police station, where he was thrashed as well, the sub-inspector asked me to accompany him to the Gaushala to drop the cows. Rakbar was fine and there were no signs of ill health. He was talking to us very normally,” says Sharma, also a Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader. Sharma says that Rakbar had accepted that he was smuggling cows during the investigation at the police station.

‘Gaushala was nine kilometres from police station’

Sharma says that they then followed the tempo which was hired to carry the cows. “The Gaushala was nine kilometres away so it took us half an hour one side. After about an hour, we reached back to the police station, after which Rakbar was taken to the hospital where he was declared ‘brought dead’. The hospital is about 50 meters away from the station,” Sharma added.

He further stated that while the post-mortem report states fracture and internal bleeding, there was ‘not one scratch on his upper body’, which could indicate that he needed immediate medication.

However, Rakbar’s neighbour, Shekhawat Khan states otherwise. “I washed his body before the burial and there was not one body part that did not bleed. One of his legs was broken in four places, and in total, about eight of his bones were broken. Even his ribs were broken,” Khan said.

Rajasthan has been infamous for lynching cases with Rakbar being marked as the seventh case since April 2017 when Pehlu Khan, a dairy farmer in Alwar, was accused of cattle smuggling and lynched to death.

Meanwhile, Rakbar was accompanied by Aslam Khan, who had managed to escape that night. “We had decided to take the cows from Khanpur village in Rajasthan to our hometown in Haryana during the night as the cows get distracted from the traffic during the day,” Aslam informed.

“We had bought the cows for Rs 30,000 each and were taking them home to feed our children some milk. Rakbar was the only breadwinner for his family and had seven children. I am not aware if he was beaten by the villagers, I was scared,” Aslam said.

Alwar lynching State home minister says evidence points to custodial death but case timeline raises doubts

Two timelines of the incident

Going by the accounts of the two eyewitnesses to the incident, we have two versions of the timeline in which the events followed in Alwar:

Timeline 1: Naval Kishore Sharma (eyewitness)

12.15 am: Sharma gets a call which he did not answer.
12.25 am: His nephew wakes him up and he speaks to the villagers who seek the police’s help as the cows had entered their fields.
12.41 am: He calls the police.
1.15 am: Sharma and Police reach the spot where Rakbar was found lying in a pool of mud.
1.45 am: Police finish washing Rakbar and they head to the police station.
1.55 am: They stop at a tea stall for a break.
2.10 am: They reached the police station where Rakbar was questioned and thrashed again.
3 am: They decided to leave for the Gaushala.
3.26 am: They reach Gaushala to drop the cows.
4 am: They return to the police station
4.05 am: They take Rakbar to a community health centre where he was declared dead.

Timeline 2: Aslam Khan (a colleague of the victim)

11 pm: They left Khanpur.
1.20 am: They reached Lalawandi village, which was on their way.
1.30 am: They hear firing and some villagers running towards them.
1.35 am: Aslam hid behind the bushes while Rakbar along with the cows ran in fields.
2 am: Aslam came out of hiding after the police went
5 am: He reached the village as he got lost during the night

The contradiction in the two timelines appears at 1.30 am. While in Aslam's version they were attacked at 1.30 am and Rakbar ran with the cows into the fields at 1.35 am, according to Sharma, the cows had entered the fields at 12.25 am, and he even got a call at 12.15 am, which Sharma says he did not answer. By 1.15 am Sharma, along with the police, had reached the spot where Rakbar was found. Did he know about the ‘cow smugglers’ even before Rakbar and Aslam had reached Lalawandi village (at 1.20 am)?

“Transportation of cows is a very informal act as there is no documentation done for the same. In 2014, he (Rakbar) was bringing the cows from somewhere in a similar manner when he was booked for cow smuggling. However, no action was taken against him and only an inquiry was conducted,” said Shekhawat Khan. Ramgarh Police was unavailable for any comment on Monday. However, they have mentioned in a press release on Monday that a committee has been formed to look into the matter.

Director General of Police, Rajasthan, OP Galhotra, issued orders to set up an investigation committee to scrutinise Rakbar’s death. The committee will include Special Director General of Police (law and order), Additional Director General of Police (CID-CB) PK Singh, Inspector General of Police in the Jaipur range, Hemant Priyadarshy, and Inspector General of Police — CID CB Jaipur, Mahendra Singh Chaudhary, who is also a nodal officer for cow vigilance. "The committee has been instructed to report on the details and reasons for the alleged delay in taking (the victim) to the hospital,” the release said.

Three suspects have already been booked by the police for alleged participation in the lynching. In addition to this, according to various reports, Mohan Singh, additional sub-inspector, Ramgarh Police Station, who was on duty during the incident, has been suspended.

The centre has also sought a report on the alleged mob lynching. The Ministry of Home Affairs has asked Rajasthan government to provide details and take action as early as possible, as reported by the PTI. The issue was also raised in the Lok Sabha session by the opposition.

With inputs from Vishakha Agnihotri

The author is a Jaipur-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters

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