Two Muslim men were beaten to death by extremist Hinuds in India after leveling allegations of cow stealing.
Police in the northeastern state of Assam said they had registered a murder case over the deaths of Abu Hanifa and Riyazuddin Ali who were beaten with sticks on Sunday. Two suspects have been detained for questioning.
Police added that they were chased and beaten with sticks by villagers who said the two boys were trying to steal cows from their grazing field.
The incident comes amidst a wave of rising tensions over the killing and smuggling of cows in Hindu-majority India, where the animal is considered sacred and its slaughter is a punishable offence in many states.
There have been a spate of attacks in recent months by ‘cow protection’ vigilante groups, who roam some highways inspecting livestock trucks for any trace of the animal.
A Muslim man died last month after his truck carrying cows was attacked by a group in western Rajasthan state.
In 2015, a Muslim man was lynched by his neighbours over rumours that he had slaughtered a cow. Police later said the meat was mutton.
Critics say the vigilantes have been emboldened by the election in 2014 of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.