New Delhi, Sep 20
With their less-than-an-acre rice field parched due to poor rains and elder son caught up in a court case, what led to Pehlu Khan's lynching has ironically turned into the only source of income for his family: Two cows.
In April, Khan, a dairy farmer from Jaisinghpur village in Haryana, was lynched by cow vigilantes in Behror of Alwar district in Rajasthan. He was returning home after purchasing two cows and two calves from Jaipur.
The murder caught national attention and Khan became the face of protests against the spate of lynchings across the country in the name of gauraksha or cow protection.
After Khan's death, two cows -- one black and the other a light coloured one -- were given to the family by two organisations and now milk from them is the only source of income for the family.
"We get a little money from selling milk and relatives help us with the rest," Khan's wife Jabuna, 50, told IANS here.
Sporting a faded pink salwar with a black dupatta over her head, Jabuna said her elder son Irshad, who was with his father when they were attacked, is caught up in the case and has not been going for work.
"I'm not able to do anything after his death," Jabuna said, adding that earlier she used help her husband in their field.
As she started to explain how life has been after Khan's death, her eight-year-old son Inshad came running and hugged Jebuna -- his arms could barely reach her waist.
"We make around 150 rupees a day by selling milk and rest of the milk is used in the household," Irshad, 24, said.
Irshad used to work as a driver, but not any more.
"How will I go? Now it's my responsibility to look after the whole family. Will I look after the family and manage the case, or go for driving?" he asked.
He said the two cows they had bought from Jaipur for Rs 45,000 never reached their house and they were shifted to a "gaushala" in Rajasthan.
Apart from the financial crunch, the family also has a tough legal battle ahead of them to get justice for Khan's murder.
"Last time I went to Behror for the case, they (people close to the accused) stopped their car near ours and told me that they'll shoot me if I come back," Irshad told IANS.
The family has sought a court-monitored probe into Khan's killing and demanded shifting the case out of Rajasthan, after the local police gave a clean chit to six of the accused.
"They beat him (Khan) in front of my eyes," Irshad said about the six persons who got the clean chit.
Earlier, five other accused had also got bail on the ground that they were not present at the spot during the crime.
Irshad has only one question for the government, the police, and the judiciary: "If no one was there, then who killed my father?"
(Nikhil M. Babu can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)