A mob fatally beat a man in India’s northern state of Uttar Pradesh over rumors that his family was consuming and storing beef at home, local media reported Wednesday. Police have arrested six people in connection to the case.
The incident happened in Dadri town, about 37 miles southwest of New Delhi, Monday night. The mob broke into Mohammad Akhlaq’s house, dragged him and his son Danish out and beat them with bricks, NDTV, a local news network, reported. The 50-year-old reportedly died before he could be taken to a hospital while Danish remains in a critical condition.
"My husband was bleeding. His head was smashed. They beat the family ... My husband had no enemies," Akhlaq's wife reportedly said.
Cow slaughter and beef eating are sensitive issues in India where 80.5 percent of people follow Hinduism, according to which cows are considered holy and slaughtering of the animal regarded a sinful act. At least 18 of 29 states, including Uttar Pradesh, have strict laws against sale of cows or their slaughtering. Of these, some states have also banned beef sale and consumption. The ban on beef, most recently in India's western state of Maharashtra, triggered debate across the country with many criticizing the government’s interference.
Akhlaq’s daughter Sajida said they had “mutton in the fridge” and not beef, the Indian Express newspaper reported. The police said they have sent the meat sample for forensic testing.
The rumors allegedly began in a local temple. The temple’s priest and his aide were among those taken into custody. The priest was reportedly released after interrogation.
“We have been told that a group of people entered the temple and used a microphone to make the announcement. However, investigations are still underway. We do not know if any of the accused are associated with the temple,” S. Kiran, a senior police officer, reportedly said.