NEW DELHI: Indian police Saturday said one person has been arrested after a mob stabbed a Muslim teenager to death on suspicion of carrying beef, an offence in many parts of the Hindu-majority country.
Cows are revered by Hindus and slaughtering them as well as possession or consumption of beef is banned in most Indian states, with some imposing life sentences for breaking the law.
Junaid Khan, 15, was travelling from New Delhi on Friday with three of his brothers when a fight erupted over seats.
Between 15 and 20 men pulled out knives and set upon the brothers while making anti-Muslim comments and insisting one of the packets they were carrying contained beef.
While Khan was stabbed to death, his brother Shakir sustained injuries on the throat, chest and hands, police said.
“The fight started over seats. We are looking into the matter and we have arrested one of the accused who is a 35-year-old old man from (northern state of) Haryana,” Ajay Kumar, a government railway police official told AFP.
Khan’s brother Hassem told reporters the mob ignored their repeated pleas that they were not carrying any beef.
“They were pointing at a packet which had food and saying we should not be allowed to sit since we were carrying beef,” Haseem said.
The incident is the latest such attack by Hindu vigilantes in India, where there have been a spate of assaults against Muslims and low-caste Dalits.
In the last two years, nearly a dozen Muslim men have been killed across the country on suspicion of eating beef or smuggling cows.
Critics say vigilantes have been emboldened by the election in 2014 of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party.
Last year Modi criticised the cow protection vigilantes and urged a crackdown against groups using religion as a cover for committing crimes.