India beef
Family alleges 48-year-old Muslim man was murdered by colleague in hate-crimeAnindito Mukherjee/Reuters

A 48-year-old Muslim man has been killed after his colleague inserted a high pressure air hose into his rectum. The victim's family claims it was a communal attack while the police have so far maintained that the death was the result of a prank.

Yakub Sheikh, a car washer, was killed on 29 September but his family has come out with the allegations only now alleging the incident was a hate-crime. The incident took place in Cotton Green, a suburb in central India's Mumbai.

Santhosh Aherkar, the suspect who is in police custody after Sheikh's death, is accused of thrusting a powerful air hose up the victim's rear following a heated argument. At a press conference in Mumbai, Sheikh's relative said: "We made our own inquiries over the last one month. We have learned that Aherkar and my brother had been having an argument over the practice of animal sacrifice... Aherkar told my brother, 'Tu mutton khaake aaya hai na? Ab hum tera mutton nikaalte hain (You had mutton, we will take out your mutton now)'."

The victim and the accused were both working with the Toyota Shinrai showroom in the Mumbai suburb and the company has not made any comment on the episode. The police and the firm say Sheikh's death was an accident.

"We just want justice, because we simply cannot believe this murder is the work of just one man. Why aren't the police investigating properly? Why are they so willing to accept the company's version of events?"said Shafia Shaikha, Sheikh's daughter, who was also present at the press conference.

Local NGOs, which formed a fact-finding committee to investigate the death, have also alleged that the police officers are trying to cover up the issue. Nonetheless, joint commissioner of police (Law and Order) Deven Bharti responded to the accusations: "The investigation into the case is still going on. If anyone has new facts to share, they should feel free to approach the Investigating Officer. Their statements will be recorded and appropriate action will be taken."

India has been witnessing a series of murders with a communal tinge and hate-crimesover cow slaughter and the beef ban.