What happened for three hours on Friday night in Alwar’s Ramgarh town is a mystery. Alwar police reached the forests of Lalavandi around 1am on information that vigilantes were beating up a man on suspicion of cow smuggling for slaughter and took the injured man to hospital at 4am.
There are conflicting versions about what transpired in these three hours but all raise questions over the manner of functioning of the police.
Rakbar Khan, alias Akbar of Kol village in Haryana’s Nuh district, was attacked by alleged cow vigilantes in Ramgarh’s Lalavandi forests on Friday night. He was declared dead on arrival at the Ramgarh community health centre (CHC).
Police arrested two people — Dharmendra Yadav and Paramjeet Singh — after registering a case of unlawful assembly, wrongful restraint, voluntarily causing hurt and murder on Saturday, and one more person, Naresh Singh on Sunday.
In the FIR, lodged by assistant sub-inspector (ASI) Mohan Singh of Ramgarh police station, the police officer said Naval Kishore Sharma (a cattle rearer with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a right-wing Hindu organisation) informed him at 12.41am about some people beating a cow smuggler. He was on night patrol with two constables. Singh said he picked up Sharma in the police jeep and left for the spot around 4km away.
“It was raining and police reached in about 20-25 minutes,” assistant superintendent of police Anil Beniwal said.
As per this account, the police team reached the site of the attack around 1.15am. In the FIR, ASI Singh said some people fled on seeing the police vehicle.
“When we reached the spot, we found Dharmendra Yadav and Paramjeet Singh with two cows and a man lying in mud. We cleaned him up and asked him his name. He narrated the story of how locals beat him with sticks, injuring his ribs and limbs,” Singh’s FIR reads.
After this, the ASI left for Ramgarh CHC with Rakbar after asking constable Surendra Singh to take the two cows to Jain Sudha Sagar Gaushala (cow shelter).
However, CHC records, accessed by HT, show the time of arrival of police with Rakbar is 4am.
“During check-up, it appeared that there was a fracture in his leg,” said Dr Hasan Ali Khan, who declared Rakbar dead on arrival.
The FIR was registered at 9.20 am on Saturday, around five hours after Rakbar was declared dead.
Jaipur range inspector general of police Hemant Priyadarshi refused to comment on why there was a delay in taking Rakbar to hospital, but said all aspects were being looked into in the investigation.
Alwar SP Rahul Prakash was transferred in a bureaucratic rejig on July 19 and the new SP, Rajendra Singh, joined office on Saturday. In the interim, Beniwal held the charge of the SP.
A former police officer, who requested anonymity, said maybe on Friday-Saturday night, when the police team from Ramgarh realised the man was dead, they couldn’t reach out to their seniors for directions.
“They would have gotten cold feet when the man died and would have been scrambling to reach out to their seniors for directions. This could have led to delay in their taking the man to hospital,” he said.