Nagaon, Assam: Assam saw its first case of cow vigilantism on Sunday when two men in Nagaon, about a 125 km from Guwahati, were beaten to death by a mob that alleged the duo was involved in cow theft. Disturbing visuals of the incident have since left the northeastern state in shock. Two persons have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the lynching of cousins Abu Hanifa, 16, and Raijuddin Ali, 18.
The locals, who had allegedly seen the two men untying the cows before trying to escape with them, called more people from the village.
Soon, a mob comprising over 100 angry men chased the two for a few kilometres in Kachomari village and thrashed them with sticks. The teens didn't survive the brutal attack and died at the hospital.
Some eyewitnesses who informed the police said they were alive before the cops arrived.
"Men from nearby villages got together and attacked the two. They were breathing when the police came. Then why did the police not rescue them," asked Ritumoni Bhagawati, an eyewitness.
Nagaon Superintendent of Police Debaraj Upadhyay, however, refuted the allegation of police inaction and said, "When the police reached the spot, they were being thrashed by a mob of villagers near Kasamari grazing reserve. We dispersed the mob and took the boys to the hospital, but they died there."
In minority-dominated Nagaon, the audacity of the mob to do "public justice" and the absence of strong response from Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal's government has left people annoyed and anxious.
On Monday, people held a demonstration and demanded action against the brutal killings. The families of the victims denied their involvement in the crime and alleged they were targeted because of their religion.
"My son was innocent. He wasn't stealing any cattle. He was targeted for being a Muslim. We want justice and peace in the area," said Md Raham Ali, Raijuddin's father.
They have registered a complaint and a case has been filed. Mr Upadhyay has assured of an "impartial enquiry".
(With inputs from agencies)