Police in India have confirmed that two Muslim men have been killed by a mob which accused them of attempting to steal cows for beef consumption.
The lynching which occurred in the north-eastern state of Assam are the latest in a long series of attacks by Hindu cow vigilantes.
Hindus consider cows to be sacred and killing them is illegal in many Indian states.
A Human Rights Watch report published last week stated that at least 10 Muslims had been killed in India over cows since May 2015.
The victims of last Sunday’s attack in Assam’s Nagaon district have been identified as Riyazuddin Ali and Abu Hanifa, police said.
AFP quoted senior police official Debaraj Upadhyay as saying: “They were chased and beaten with sticks by villagers who said the two men were trying to steal cows from their grazing field.
“By the time we took them to the hospital at night they had succumbed to their injuries.”
A murder case has been registered and two people have been arrested for questioning, police said.
The Human Rights Watch report states that since the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) formed India’s federal government in 2014, attacks against Muslims have increased over accusations that they bought, sold or slaughtered cows for beef.
The BJP now also governs Assam.
Muslims killed in the vigilante lynchings against beef consumption in India include a 12-year-old boy.
Numerous states in India are now enforcing bans on cow slaughter and in March, the western state of Gujarat introduced a law prohibiting the slaughter of cows punishable with life imprisonment.
In addition to government bans, Hindu vigilante groups who present themselves as “protectors of cows” have also been active in several states.
The groups routinely check vehicles at makeshift checkpoints and regularly beat up Muslim cattle traders.
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