NEW DELHI (AP) — A village mob in northern India beat one Muslim to death with sticks and injured four others who were accused of smuggling cows to be slaughtered for beef, police said Friday. The survivors were arrested for alleged animal cruelty.
Hard-line Hindus have been trying to force a national ban on cow slaughter, triggering mob violence. A Muslim man was lynched in Uttar Pradesh state last month over false rumors his family had eaten beef for dinner.
Hindus worship cows as a sacred animal and some Indian states ban slaughtering them. The country of 1.3 billion is about 81 percent Hindu and 13 percent Muslim.
Officer Somya Sambhasivam said police were searching for villagers who fled after the attack Wednesday in Sarahan, a village in Himachal Pradesh state. The area is nearly 260 kilometers (160 miles) north of New Delhi.
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The mob chased the truck loaded with five cows and 10 bulls and attacked the five occupants of the vehicle, Sambhasivam said.
The five hid in the forest until police found them and took them to the hospital, where one of them died, she said.
Police arrested the four survivors for alleged cruelty toward the animals, causing injuries to them during transportation in the truck, she said.
Police were investigating whether the assailants belonged to a Hindu hard-line group.
The Press Trust of India said those attacked were all Muslims from neighboring Uttar Pradesh state.
Violence by Hindu fringe groups has increased since Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party came to power last year.