Rajasthan Police on Monday admitted "error of judgement" in handling the case of alleged lynching of 28-year-old Rakbar in Alwar, as it suspended one and transferred three policemen, even as it refuted allegations of "custodial death".
Amid allegations of negligence on part of the local policemen, including for delay in taking Rakbar alias Akbar Khan to hospital, a high-level panel, set up by the state police, found four policemen guilty of dereliction in duty and suspended Assistant Sub-Inspector Mohan Singh, who was in charge of the Ramgarh police station at that time, and shunted three constables to police lines, officials said.
"There was an error in the judgement in trying to respond to the situation. The preliminary investigation suggested there was an error in prioritising the situation", said Special DGP (law and order) NRK Reddy said at a press conference in Alwar.
The action to suspend ASI Mohan Singh was taken after a video purportedly him admitting to his "mistake" went viral.
"Mere se galti hogai...kaise bhi maan lo..saja de do ya chhodh do...seedhi si baat hai(I made a mistake...punish me or pardon me...it is simple and straight)," the ASI can be heard purportedly saying in the video.
The video of the ASI surfaced hours after allegations that the Alwar police delayed by nearly three hours the shifting of Khan to the Ramgarh community healthcare centre.
Rajasthan Police set up high-level commitee to probe allegations of delay
The Rajasthan police on Monday set up a high-level committee to probe the allegations of delay against the Alwar police in taking Akbar Khan to a hospital after he was allegedly lynched by a group of people on the suspicion of cow smuggling.
"Allegations of delay in taking Khan to the hospital and policemen crossing their limits have come to fore. A four-member committee of senior police officials is in Alwar to enquire into the matter," state Director General of Police (DGP) O P Galhotra said.
It will also be probed whether the 28-year-old Akbar, alias Rakbar Khan, became a victim of police beating on the intervening night of Friday and Saturday.
Appropriate action would be taken if any lapses were found in the enquiry report, the DGP said.
The committee comprise special DGP (law and order) N R K Reddy, Additional DGP (CID-Crime Branch) P K Singh, Inspector General (Jaipur Range) Hemant Priyadarshi and state nodal officer (cow vigilance) Mahendra Singh Chaudhary, Galhotra informed in a statement here.
The inquiry is in addition to the overall probe that has been handed over to an additional SP-rank officer.
While two persons, Dharmendra Yadav and Paramjeet Singh, were arrested on Saturday, the third accused, Naresh Singh, was arrested yesterday and they are under police custody for five days, police said.
"There are certain allegations that the local police had beaten Khan and delayed in taking him to hospital which are being looked into," SP (Alwar) Rajendra Singh said.
It is alleged that when the incident happened in Lalawandi village in Alwar, it took over two-and-a-half hours for the police to take the victim to the Ramgarh Community Healthcare Centre, which is nearly 4 km away.
Akbar, along with his friend Aslam, were taking cows to their villages in Haryana through a forest area in Ramgarh area of Alwar, where they caught by a group of people.
Aslam had managed to flee from there.
As per the FIR lodged with Ramgarh police station on Saturday, Naval Kishore Sharma, the chief of VHP's "Gau Raksha" cell in Ramgarh, had informed the police at 12.41 am (on Saturday) about the incident.
Police reached the spot at around 1.15 am.
Akbar's statement was recorded and he was taken to the police station.
As per the CHC entry register, a body of a 28-year-old male was brought at 4.00 am.
Questioning the role of the police, local Ramgarh MLA Gyan Dev Ahuja has demanded a judicial inquiry to find out if Rakbar was lynched by a mob or beaten to death by police.
Following the allegation, the probe into the alleged lynching incident was handed over to Additional SP (Crime and Vigilance), Jaipur Range, on Sunday.
"The investigation will be carried out in a fair and transparent manner," IG, Jaipur Range, Hemant Priyadarshi had said.
Meanwhile, the police investigation has revealed the past police record of the victim.
On December 30, 2014, Nauganwa police station in Alwar had registered a case against Rakbar under sections 5 (prohibits the export of bovine animals for slaughter) and 8 (penalty for contravention of Section 5) of the Rajasthan Bovine Animal Act, after allegedly retrieving two cows from him.
Nauganwa police station SHO Mohan Singh said a challan was filed in the 2014 case.
Centre sets up panel to suggest ways to combat mob violence, lynchings
The Centre on Monday set up a four-member panel headed by Union home secretary Rajiv Gauba to formulate appropriate measures and legal framework to deal with mob lynching.
The panel will submit its recommendations to a ministerial committee, headed by Union home minister Rajnath Singh, which will submit its recommendations to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a home ministry spokesperson said. The Supreme Court had recently directed the central government to act against mob violence and lynching.
The decision also came on a day when outrage continued following the alleged lynching of a man from Haryana in Rajasthan’s Alwar district Friday night when he was transporting two cows.
Earlier on Monday, the Centre sought a report from the BJP government in Rajasthan on the lynching after the Congress raised the incident in the Lok Sabha.
The Union home ministry asked the state government to provide details of the incident, the action taken to punish those involved in it and the steps taken to restore peace.
The incident, which triggered tension in the region, took place just four days after the Supreme Court slammed the Central and state governments for failing to prevent frequent lynchings, terming them “horrendous acts of mobocracy,” and issued a slew of directions to tackle them.
BJP, Opposition spar over Alwar lynching
The lynching of Khan was also raised in the Lok Sabha by a member of Parliament from Congress, triggering protests from BJP members. The lower house faced an adjournment following a ruckus over the incident, which has drawn widespread condemnation amid similar lynchings across the country in the last few months.
Karan Singh Yadav of the Congress raised the issue during Zero Hour and said it was the fourth such incident in the state.
Those who claimed to be 'gau-rakshak' (cow protectors) are behind this murder, he said amid protests by some BJP members- who were not audible- and also attacked the policefor wasting time in taking the victim to hospital, leading to his death.
The main opposition party and the government have been sparring with each other after Congress president Rahul Gandhi attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s slogan ‘New India’ while referring to the alleged police inaction in the lynching case.
Union finance minister Piyush Goyal asked Gandhi to “stop jumping with joy every time a crime happens”.
“The state has already assured strict & prompt action. You divide the society in every manner possible for electoral gains & then shed crocodile tears. Enough is Enough. You are a MERCHANT OF HATE,” Goyal tweeted.
Supreme Court to hear petition seeking contempt action against Rajasthan government
The Supreme Court will hear a petition seeking contempt action against the Rajasthan government in connection with Khan’s lynching. The top court will hear the petition on August 28.