A Muslim man has died after being attacked by a mob while transporting cows in India, police said on Wednesday, as tensions continue to rise over the slaughter of what is considered a holy animal in the Hindu-majority country.
The deased, Pehlu Khan, and three others were beaten up by the vigilantes on Saturday while they were transporting cows in six vehicles to Haryana.
In Jaipur, Rajasthan Home Minister Gulab Chand Kataria said that though the smuggling of cows for slaughter is prohibited in the state, no one has the right to take the law into their hands. "I told them I had all the documents but they pulled us out of the vehicle and beat us up". Also, the others who were attacked by cow vigilantes are in hospital and are undergoing treatment. It shows the men being beaten with sticks and iron rods.
He said the police have launched a manhunt for the five main suspects.
Katariya further said that the vigilantes should not have assaulted the men, adding a case was registered against the smugglers as well as the protectors who disobeyed the law.
The new Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath ordered a crackdown on illegal slaughterhouses, which had led to the burning down of several meat shops in the state. We were not even trying to hide the cows, as we were taking them in a pick-up truck. "Now, after Khan's death, we have added Section 302 (murder) as well", Behror's station house officer Ramesh Chand Sinsinwar told the Indian Express.
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"Police got information some people are smuggling cows from Jaipur and headed to Delhi", a senior policeman told NDTV.
While the incident was widely reported on Tuesday, a video of it has emerged on Wednesday showing a group of men beating a Muslim man, and vandalising a truck carrying cows.
Apart from the attackers, police also arrested the drivers of the vehicles on suspicion of cow-trafficking, an offence in predominantly-Hindu Rajasthan.
Critics say the vigilantes were emboldened by the election in 2014 of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party.
A group of right-wing goons have killed a Muslim man on the suspicion of cow smuggling in Rajasthan's Alwar district. Shortly after he was sworn in, police began shutting butcher shops, grinding much of the industry to a halt.
Last week, Modi's home state of Gujarat raised the sentence for cow slaughter to life imprisonment.