More than two years after Pehlu Khan, a Haryana dairy farmer, was beaten to death in Rajasthan’s Alwar, even the thought of watching the video of the incident gives shivers to his son Irshad. But every time it is played out on the television, the 28-year-old feels the renewed resolve to seek justice for his father.
Heart-broken by the court verdict acquitting all the six accused in the case , Irshad, sitting at his house in Jaisingpur village here on Thursday, said that he was committed to fight till his “last breath”. “Even if we are to sell our house to arrange money for the case, we would continue to fight for justice. I will take this fight to the Supreme Court. I am committed to fight till my last breath,” said Irshad, the eldest among the eight siblings.
Pitted against a hostile criminal justice system and the influential accused, the over two-year-long legal battle has not been easy for the family with limited financial resources, said Irshad, adding that they could still carry on their quest for justice helped by uncountable anonymous sympathisers pitching in with small monetary contributions and several activists, both legal and social, guiding them at every step.
He recalled how eminent UP poet Imran Pratapgarhi circulated his mother’s bank account number on social media platforms attracting help from every nook and corner of the country. “Hundreds of anonymous people have contributed ranging from a few hundreds to several thousand rupees to support us in these trying times. In fact, we still continue to receive the contributions, though occasionally. The ₹12 lakh collected through crowd-funding in this manner helped us a great deal to fight for the justice. Else, we could not have come this far,” said Irshad.
Activist lawyers like Nooruddin Noor, Asad Hyaat and Ramzan Choudhary, among others, fought pro bono, but most of the expenses included frequent visits to courts in Behror, Alwar and Jaipur. “Each visit would cost no less then ₹5,000,” said Irshad.
Though activists, villagers, relatives and even common people came forward to support them, Pehlu Khan’s wife Jubuna regretted that no help from the government came their way. She recalled that SP, Alwar, once initiated the process for ₹5 lakh compensation to the family, but it never came through.
Dealing with an emotional trauma on the one hand, the family has been struggling to make both ends meet on the other after the demise of Pehlu Khan.
He used to run a dairy and rear half-a-dozen cattle, including cows, but the family was forced to sell off the animals to meet the financial needs arising out of the case. “We sold a buffalo to hire a lawyer in High Court to oppose the bail plea of an accused during the trial. The lawyer demanded ₹55,000 for a single appearance. We had no choice,” said Irshad, spearheading the legal battle.
Two of his younger brothers are now working as helpers on the trucks to support the family earning a meagre ₹4,000-5,0000 per month. Irshad, busy pursuing the case, cannot contribute much to the family in financial terms.
Irshad felt that the police sided with the accused to weaken the case at every stage. “The police did not conduct the mandatory Test Identification Parade. It was two years later that the prosecution asked us to identify the accused from among 30-odd people. How could we remember their faces after so long? The six people named by my father in his dying declaration were also given a clean chit during the investigation,” said Irshad.