India beef
Asgari Begum, mother of Mohammed Akhalaq, mourns his death inside her house in BisaraAnindito Mukherjee/Reuters

Just weeks after a violent mob lynched a Muslim man in India over eating beef, another alleged lynching of a truck driver has taken place in the country over suspicion that he was smuggling cows.

Noman, a resident of the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, was allegedly beaten to death by a mob at Sarahan, a village near the tourist hill town of Simla in India. He was suspected by Bajrang Dal – an extremist Hindu organisation – of smuggling cattle including cows, considered a holy animal by Hindus, in his truck.

The local police have said they received information that a truck carrying smuggled cows was present in Sarahan. When they reached the spot on the morning of 13 October, Noman was found grievously injured.

"The role of Bajrang Dal activists is being investigated, and we will be camping at Sarahan for further action in the case," said Soumya Sambasivan, the officer handling the case.

The four other occupants of the truck were, however, booked under the Cow Slaughter Act and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act after police found the truck was carrying cattle. Police also registered a case of murder and are investigating whether Bajrang Dal activists were behind the attack.

Imran Asgar, a relative of the deceased who was among the four who have been booked, alleged that Noman was beaten up by these activists, after they spotted their truck, leading to his death.

The incident comes three weeks after 55-year-old Mohammed Akhalaq was lynched in Uttar Pradesh over rumours that he had stored and eaten beef at his house. Forensic tests had later confirmed that the meat consumed by Akhalaq was goat meat and not beef.

Cow slaughter is banned in most Indian states given the religious sensitivity of Hindus who constitute more than 70% of the country's population. Since the beef lynching incident, opinion in the country has been divided. While some have said a blanket ban on cow meat is the only solution, others have scathingly attacked the government and politicians for trying to impose restrictions on their freedom.