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An Angry Mob In India Lynched a Muslim Man Because They Thought He Had Eaten Beef

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A 50-year old Muslim man has been killed by a mob in a village near the Indian capital New Delhi, after rumors spread in the area that the man’s family had consumed and stored beef at their home, the Indian Express reports.

The mob, in Bisara village in northern state of Uttar Pradesh, attacked Mohammad Akhlaq on Sept. 28. His 22-year-old son was also injured and remains in a critical condition at a government hospital.

The incident occurred on Monday night after allegations that Akhlaq’s family had slaughtered a cow spread through the village, Anurag Singh, a local administrative official, tells TIME. The police arrived 30 minutes later.

“A case has been filed by the daughter and her mother against the assailants. They identified around 10 men and we have arrested six of them. The rest are absconding,” says Singh.

News of the attacks comes against the backdrop of a long-running debate in the country over the slaughter of cows. The animal is considered sacred by Hindus, who make up 80% of the country’s 1.3 billion people. Many states, including Uttar Pradesh, have laws restricting the killing of cows. The debate was revived in March when the local government in the Indian state of Maharashtra, where Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party is in power, introduced a wide-ranging ban on the sale and consumption of beef.

Akhlaq’s daughter Sajida claimed that there had been an announcement at a local Hindu temple accusing Akhlaq of slaughtering a cow. “They dragged my brother and father outside the room and used bricks which they found under his bed to beat them,” Sajida told the Indian Express. “My father was taken outside the house and beaten to death. My brother was dragged to the courtyard downstairs and they used bricks to hit him on the head and chest, leaving him unconscious. They also tried to molest me and hit my grandmother on her face. They threatened to kill me if I said a word to the police.”

The police have sent meat found in the house for forensic testing. Akhlaq’s daughter said that they only had mutton in their fridge.

Local police has tightened security in the village, which is located around 28 miles from the Indian capital.

As news of the arrests spread, residents from a neighboring village clashed with the police. In the ensuing agitation, a 20-year-old was injured by a bullet, Chandra Shekher, another local administrative official, tells TIME, adding: “We do not know who shot the boy. The investigation is ongoing.”

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