NEW DELHI: A travesty of justice causing considerable stress to the families of those attacked by cow vigilantes is visible in the follow up action to the horrific lynchings of Mohammad Akhlaq,Pehlu Khan and 15 year old Junaid. Their families are sitting terrified for their lives, with Junaids father suffering a heart attack in the process, and others remain terrified for their safety and security.

The Citizen examines the status of the three cases.

Junaid Khan: The first indication that even the fairly cut and dried Junaid case was not following what should have been predictable lines came in August just after a month of the lynching when a Faridabad court gave bail to two of the accused. One of these was a main accused Chander Prakash leading Junaid’s father Jalaluddin to say in anguish, “Police ne sab galat kar diya hai… They’re doing this under some political pressure… It’s been a little more than a month and the culprit has been let out on bail. My sons told me he was one of the main culprits.”Jalaluddin subsequently suffered a heart attack.

Now the case has taken another twist, with the judge of the trial court having sought action against a senior government lawyer for allegedly helping persons charged with killing the 15-year-old. According to the Indian Express, “in an interim order on October 25, Additional District and Sessions Judge, Faridabad, Y S Rathore said that Additional Advocate General Naveen Kaushik was assisting the counsel of the main accused, Naresh Kumar, in cross-examination of prosecution witnesses. As per court records, the judge said Kaushik was “suggesting questions to be put to the witnesses” at two hearings, on October 24 and 25.”

Judge Rathore said, “This act of Mr Naveen Kaushik, Additional Advocate General Haryana amounts to professional misconduct and is against legal ethics and highly unbecoming of an Advocate, particularly because he is a Law Officer in the office of Advocate General, Haryana.”

He further added, that this was a sensitive case in which “according to prosecution case, one boy of minority community was killed during the quarrel in a train over sharing of seats with passengers of majority community after the deceased was allegedly abused on religious lines”. And that if Kaushik appears along with the defence counsel, “it will send a wrong signal and will also create a feeling of insecurity amongst the victim party and will adversely effect the aim of the court to conduct free and fair trial”.

The judge has asked for a letter to be written to the Punjab and Haryana High Court to take up the matter with the state government for necessary action against him.

Naresh Kumar was arrested later after a storm of protest rocked Delhi and other cities following the young boys murder. The Haryana police claimed that Naresh Kumar had confessed to the murder. Kamaldeep Goyal, SP (GRP Ambala Cantt), at the time told reporters , “We tracked him via CCTV footage. He has admitted that he stabbed Junaid multiple times. So far, none of the accused has claimed that the argument started over beef.”

The family that is fighting the case, are worried for their safety as the accused who were part of the mob that beat up the boys and killed Junaid are out on bail. Jalaluddins counsel has placed a petition asking for the probe to be transferred from the Haryana police to the CBI saying, “It is the grievance of the petitioner that the statement of all the witnesses has been deliberately distorted to introduce ambiguity, discrepancies and contradictions, with the calculated interest of benefiting the accused.”

Mohammad Akhlaq: Akhlaq was killed in Dadri, the first major lynching by the cow vigilantes in September 2015. It has been a full two years since, and perhaps this case best demonstrates the tampering of justice as it has had time to play out on the ground.

After Akhaq was killed by a mob that dragged him out of his house for allegedly consuming beef counter charges were filed against the family. There were two forensic reports, the first that cleared the meat as not being beef. And then a second mysterious forensic report, that claimed it was beef. The family, including Akhlaq’s seriously injured son who was also attacked by the mob, were threatened and finally had to leave the village and seek refuge in Delhi.

All the 19 accused of lynching Mohammad Akhlaq in his village in Dadri are out on bail. This was part of the promise made by BJP leaders who visited the village after the killing. As reported by The Citizen, “ as per a promise made by BJP leaders within days of the killing. And of these some will be given a job within three months in public sector National Thermal Power Corporation.

A small,almost unnoticed news item in Hindi newspaper Amar Ujala of October 9 states:

(Translated it basically states that those accused of killing Mohammad Akhlaq in Bisarha village will be given jobs in NTPC within three months. This decision has been taken).”

Mohammad Akhlaq’s family told The Citizen that they were scared for their safety and had no plan to return to the village.

Pehlu Khan: The Rajasthan High Court granted bail to the last two persons held in the Pehlu Khan lynching case. Khan was lynched by cow vigilantes when returning from a cattle fair with milch cows. Those with him were attacked.

Earlier, three people were granted bail by the High court and two by a juvenile court. Two other accused are untraceable. Bail was granted to Dayanand, 47, and Yogesh Kumar, 30, on September 18 “on the ground that their case was similar to others who were granted bail before them. It was no different. The high court accepted our plea and granted them bail,” said Harendra Singh, the advocate for the accused, according to reports.

The first among the accused to be granted bail was Ravindra, on July 12, followed by Kaluram on August 9 and Vipin on August 31.

Terrified out of his wits, with his life lying in ruin around him, 27 year old Azmat Khan who was seriously injured by the cow vigilantes who killed his uncle Pehlu Khan, had no idea what to do when contacted by The Citizen earlier.His voice over the phone registered the despair and the helplessness when asked about the Rajasthan police decision to give a clean chit to the six men who had been named by the survivors in the FIR filed with the police later.

As Azmat Khan said, these were the only six names they had filed. He said that the attackers were all referring to each other by name and as they were being assaulted they had made a note of these. Om Yadav (45), Hukum Chand Yadav (44), Sudhir Yadav (45), Jagmal Yadav (73), Naveen Sharma (48) and Rahul Saini (24) were named in the FIR, with the other names being added later by the police on the basis of the investigations it claimed to have made.

Khan said that towards the end of the attack they were all piled together and “we could hear them tell each other to take out the diesel from one of their vehicles and set us on fire.” He said that they had started the process of taking out the diesel but “the police arrived as they were finding it a little difficult with the gas tank on that vehicle being below, and not on top.” He said the men had referred to each other by name then as well and these had been included in the FIR.

The men have been given a clean chit by the cops on the basis of an alibi provided by a cow shelter staff and the police claimed, their mobile phone records. They are all out, adding to the fears of the family that is still being summoned to Alwar, Jaipur and Bairaut in connection with the cases of illegal cow transportation, filed against them.

Pehlu Khan was transporting milch cows from Jaipur to his home in Nuh, Haryana when he and the others with him were stopped by cow mobs who lynched him. Khan was transporting cows from a market in Jaipur to his home in Nuh, Haryana, when he was lynched by alleged cow vigilantes near Alwar on April1 this year.

Azmat Khan sustained major injuries, including a spinal fracture. He said that he has still not recovered, has pain, and his health is nowhere close to what it was before. He said that they were primarily dairy farmers, but now their work is finished. “We have no money to meet our basic needs now,” he said. The young man is supporting an old mother, a paralysed brother, and other dependents. He said there was no indication that “we can recover, they took away my cow that no one has returned to me, they robbed me of the Rs 33000 I had on me, in fact they took that first. And now we have no money at all.”

Has the Rajasthan government paid any compensation. “No nothing, in fact we are spending and borrowing to answer their summons, as it costs money to go to Alwar, or Jaipur with the process taking a day at least.”

Azmat Khan said that more than the money was the fear that was hounding all of them. “Everytime we are called by the police it becomes a major issue, how to organise it. Everyone is aware that we are at risk, and worry that someone might attack us on the way there. And now (with the release of the six) we don’t know what will happen. Someone told us that in lock up one of the accused was saying that if he had been out he would have taken care of us. I do not know what to do, have no idea what will happen to us.”

Azmat Khan said that he does not have the health any longer. He was coughing even as he spoke, but was clear that the family would continue the fight for justice. The trauma of the attack that killed Pehlu Khan, sending shock waves across India, remains with him and all who were attacked by the cow mobs that day.