Indian police said Monday they had detained two people in connection with the weekend killings of a pair of suspected cattle thieves by a mob in northeastern Assam state.
The fatal beatings of the two Muslim men in Nagaon district were the latest in a string of attacks in India allegedly carried out by so-called cow vigilantes and stemming from inter-religious tensions over the treatment of cows, considered sacred in Hindu culture. Most states in Hindu-majority India ban the slaughter of these animals and consumption of beef.
The killings in Nagaon occurred Sunday after a villager spotted two men – identified as Riyazuddin and Abu Hanefa – walking away with his cows and raised an alarm, superintendent of police Debaraj Upadhyay said.
“The other villagers who gathered at the spot chased the two men and brutally beat them. Police arrived at the scene and rushed the two men to a nearby hospital, where they succumbed to their injuries,” Upadhyay told BenarNews.
“We have picked up two people for questioning and are looking for other suspects in the case,” he said, adding these were the first killings of suspected cattle thieves by a mob in Assam.
Nagaon district resident Abdul Jabbar, who claimed to have witnessed the killings, told BenarNews: “There was a huge ruckus. I stepped out of my house and saw dozens of villagers chasing two men. They eventually got hold of them and beat them mercilessly.”
At least 10 Muslims have been killed in separate incidents of mob violence over rumors of beef consumption across India since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came to power in May 2014, according to a report released by Human Rights Watch (HRW) last week.
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