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Sessions judge gives them the benefit of the doubt; Rajasthan govt. to file appeal

Two years after Haryana dairy farmer Pehlu Khan was allegedly lynched by a mob of cow vigilantes on the Jaipur-Delhi National Highway, a sessions court in Alwar on Wednesday acquitted all six persons accused of beating him to death, while giving them the benefit of the doubt. The April 1, 2017, incident, caught on camera, had sparked nationwide outrage.

Additional district & sessions judge Sarita Swami pronounced the judgment in a packed courtroom in the presence of the accused, who were earlier released on bail at various stages during the trial.

Three other accused, who are minors, are facing proceedings as children in conflict with law in Alwar’s Juvenile Justice Board.

The trial had concluded on August 7 after the completion of arguments of prosecution and defence.

Forty-four witnesses, including Khan’s two sons Irshad and Aarif, had deposed in the case, registered under Sections 302 (murder), 147 (rioting) and 341 (wrongful restraint) of the Indian Penal Code. The chargesheet was submitted in a court in Behror, but the trial was later shifted to Alwar.

Khan, 55, and his sons were transporting cows, after purchasing them in a cattle fair in Jaipur, to their hometown Nuh in Haryana, when they were waylaid near Behror by the self-styled cow vigilantes and beaten up on the accusation of smuggling cattle. Khan died of his injuries in a hospital after two days.

APP Yogendra Khatana told The Hindu that the State would file an appeal in the Rajasthan High Court.

President questions ‘developing’ tag for China and India

U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday said the U.S. would leave the World Trade Organization (WTO), the world’s largest multilateral trade forum, if it had to.

Referring to trade disputes, Mr. Trump said, “We were losing all our cases in the World Trade Organization. Almost every case, we were — lost, lost, lost. They thought we were stupid. They were the ones ruling. And then I came along. Now we’re winning a lot of cases because they know that they’re not on very solid ground. We will leave, if we have to.”

Mr. Trump was speaking at the Shell Pennsylvania Petrochemicals Complex.

However, Tuesday is not the first time that Mr. Trump has trained his guns on the international trade body. At the end of July, the President directed the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), asking it to convince the WTO to rethink its classification of developing countries (which can avail of special trade protections).

In his speech, Mr. Trump named India and China as examples of countries that had taken advantage of the U.S. “But people have taken advantage... Like, for instance, they view certain countries — like China, India, many countries — for a long time, they viewed them as ‘they’re growing’,” Mr. Trump said.

He added that these countries had now grown and had “tremendous advantages”.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday that he wanted to assure the people of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh that these areas would develop as per their wishes.

“For years, intimidation ruled the roost. Let us now give development a chance,” he told Indo-Asian News Service in an interview on completing 75 days of his second stint as Prime Minister, adding that Articles 370 and 35A were “like chains that kept people tied.”

The interview touched on various subjects, including the 2019 polls, the government’s anti-corruption agenda and issues related to health and education.

Reparation for injustice

On Jammu and Kashmir and his government’s decision to do away with the special status and carving two Union Territories out of the erstwhile State, he said it was reparation for an injustice.

“There was injustice against women and children, ST and SC communities. And, most importantly, the innovative zeal of the people of Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh was not harnessed. Now, from BPOs to startups, from food processing to tourism, many industries can avail investment and create opportunities for the local youth,” he said.

“Please see the list of people who have opposed the decisions about Kashmir — the usual vested interest groups, political dynasties, those who sympathise with terror and some friends in the Opposition. The people of India, irrespective of what their political preference is, have supported the steps,” he said.

President Ram Nath Kovind on Wednesday said the recent changes to Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) and Ladakh will bring “immense benefits” to the people by allowing them to enjoy the same rights and privileges as citizens in the rest of the country, including progressive laws like abolition of triple talaq.

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