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Arrest those who killed Pehlu Khan, cow vigilantism will cause more violence

JAIPUR: Twenty-three former bureaucrats have urged Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje to arrest those who killed a Muslim farmer and warned that unchecked cow vigilantism will lead to “large-scale violence”.

“Very disturbed” by the April 1 lynching of a dairy farmer Pehlu Khan in Alwar, the ex-bureaucrats also pressed Raje to punish police and other officials blamed for dereliction of duty.

The petitioners, all from the 1968 IAS batch, include Gopalkrishna Gandhi, Arun Kumar, Aruna Roy and Wajahat Habibullah.

Khan and four other dairy farmers were attacked with sticks and stones by self-styled cow vigilants on a national highway when they were returning to Haryana from a cattle fair in Rajasthan.

The attackers claimed Khan and others were smuggling cows. But they had documents to prove they had purchased the cattle from the fair and had no relationship with cattle smugglers or cow slaughter.

Habibullah told IANS that they wrote to Raje with whom all petitioners have “high expectations” that she would set a precedent by taking action against the culprits.

“We are very disturbed by the lynching and murder of Khan. We are also dismayed by the acts of omission and commission of the government following the incident, including the delay and marked reluctance in arresting all those guilty of the act,” reads the April 23 letter.

They said the killing of Khan by an “arbitrary self-appointed group of vigilantes shows how much we have succeeded in undermining the most basic principles and values on which we have based our nation”.

They warned that if this kind of vigilantism wasn’t checked, it would would “lead to large-scale violence” which could corrode democracy and embolden cow vigilantes to flout the law.

The letter said that “a reprehensible attempt on the part of certain people in authority in Rajasthan as well as in the Union government to deny this horrific incident or to minimise its gravity” have made them complicit in the crime with their “inaction and silence”.

They urged the government to register cases and take a decisive action on “the dying statement of Khan”.

“The culprits must be arrested to restore the faith of the victims’ families and their communities in the system of justice in the country.

“The failure to take immediate action at this juncture will amount to a mockery of good governance and the rule of law and will inevitably lead to anarchy.”