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'Who is Naqvi to say Pehlu Khan wasn't murdered?': A bereaved family responds

Akash Bisht | Updated on: 6 April 2017, 23:08 IST
(Arya Sharma/Catch News)

The family of Pehlu Khan is mourning the loss of its eldest member, but Union minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi added to their despair on 6 April when he said in Parliament that no such incident as reported by the media had taken place.

“This is a sensitive issue. A message should not go that we are supporting cow slaughter! Such an incident did not happen on the ground. The state government has denied the report. But let this House not send a message that it supports cow slaughter,” Naqvi said.

His statement was in response to the Congress leader Madhusudan Mistry's allegation that law and order has collapsed in Rajasthan. Soon after he made the statement, opposition leaders slammed the minister for his remarks. Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said that Naqvi is ill-informed and even the New York Times knows of the incident and not the minister.

On 1 March, while returning from a cattle fair in Jaipur, Pehlu and four others were brutally assaulted by cow vigilantes who alleged that these men were illegally transporting bovines. Three days after the assault in Alwar, Pehlu succumbed to his injuries in a hospital while the rest are still nursing their wounds.

A hurting family

Naqvi's statement didn't go down well with Pehlu's family members in Jaisinghpur village. At first, they didn’t didn't believe that the minister had actually said this.

“Then how did Pehlu die? What about the videos where these goons can be seen beating us and Pehlu? Is the police lying too? Why have they registered an FIR? Why have they arrested people? Who injured me and my brothers?” questioned Pehlu's nephew Aarif Khan, who was also assaulted.

“Let the police say that the incident never happened and prove that Pehlu died of natural causes. Who is this Naqvi to say anything like this,” Aarif says.

General apathy

Such statements, Aarif says reflect the apathy of the government towards innocent Muslims who are being killed for no fault of theirs. “There are many such Muslims in India who have no sympathy for fellow Muslims and Naqvi is one of them. The BJP must have made him say that and he wants to remain in power and save his chair,” he says. 

According to him, if the government can't provide any support to Pehlu's family or others who were hurt in the incident, it should not make such insensitive comments. “The least the government could have done is to condemn the incident and appealed to all people to not take law in their hands. However, they are denying that nothing of this sort happened which in a way is worse than the assault by these gau rakshaks,” he added.

The incident

Pehlu and four others were assaulted by the gau rakshaks despite having legal documents of the purchases made from the fair. When they displayed the documents, the attackers tore them.

In fact, the family runs a dairy and bought milch cows as they couldn't afford buffaloes. They had bought the cows for the month of Ramzan so that they could have milk during the period of fasting.

Despite Naqvi's comments, there are multiple videos being circulated on WhatsApp where cow vigilantes can be clearly seen assaulting Pehlu and others.

It was after these videos surfaced, the police was able to zero down on the suspects responsible for the assault. So far, the police has registered a case of murder against six persons and 200 more people. However, the six key suspects – Hukum Chand, Jagmal, Om Prakash, Sudheer, Rahul Saini and Navin Saini – have not yet been arrested.

Congress attack government

The Parliament also witnessed massive uproar over the incident. Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi used to train his guns on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Rashtriya Swayamesevak Sangh (RSS).

In a series of tweets, the Gandhi-scion said that the government must take strict action against the guilty.

First published: 6 April 2017, 20:43 IST