NEW DELHI: Harsh Mander today took on the Rajasthan administration, and the state police, by laying flowers at the spot where Pehlu Khan had been lynched and those with him mercilessly beaten by a mob of cow vigilantes. Stopped by the cops Mander refused to budge, asking them to arrest him, until permission they were left with no choice but to allow him to lay the flowers on the Behror crossroads on the highway where Khan was killed in horrific violence.

Mander told The Citizen that gau rakshaks who had gathered at the spot stoned the bus in which he is travelling along with others on the month long Karwan e Mohabbat (Caravan of Love) , a journey of peace, love and atonement for communal harmony.

“I do not believe in God so I did not pray, but I placed the flowers for humanity, Pehlu Khan and his family, and all those who have been lynched in similar fashion,” Mander said.

The police refused to the Karwan team place flowers on the spot where Pehlu Khan was attacked and breathed his last. The gau rakshaks breathed fire on the other side of a barricade, after an attempt to terrorise the Karwan by stoning the bus. The cops said that it was the right of the cow vigilantes to demand this not be done, to which Mander replied that it was also his constitutional right to do exactly what the Karwan had stopped to do, place flowers at the spot.

He told the cops to arrest him but he would not leave until he was given permission. Finally after half an hour of argument they backed off, Mander placed the flowers, the first by any citizen and left. As he has been saying, the Karwan is an effort to apologise to the families of those killed, and to convince them that this is not India. And there are many in India who care, and support his efforts.

This comes within 24 hours after the Rajasthan police gave a clean chit to the six men named by Pehlu Khan in his dying declaration. As his nephew Azmat Khan who suffered a spinal fracture amongst many other injuries in the attack told The Citizen, the family is terrified and fearful of its safety. As threats from some members of the six let free have reached them through others, and “every time we have to travel we are scared of attacks”.