The body of an Indian truck driver, who reportedly jumped into a river to escape possible lynching by suspected cow vigilantes, was recovered on Sunday (7 August).

Manu Bhai, a native of Gujarat, was passing through Sultanpur town in the Raisen district of the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, with his 25-year-old cleaner, Mohsin Khan, on Thursday night (4 August) when his wheat-laden truck accidentally ran over three cows.

The 45-year-old trucker and his helper were thrashed by a group of unidentified people and passers-by after the accident. The two of them jumped into the overflowing Barna River to save their lives from the mob, a Times of India report said.

According to Khan, who survived the jump into the river, they were allegedly attacked by around 15 people.

Khan also added that Bhai, who is survived by his wife, four children and an ailing mother, tried to escape but was pulled out of his truck and beaten.

Raisen SP Deepak Verma, said, "No particular organisation is involved in the attack. We have lodged a case and investigations are on."

Cows are considered sacred by Hindus and their slaughter has been made illegal in several states in India, especially those ruled by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Reports of violence by vigilantes in the name of cow protection have increased in India in the past few months. On 6 August, Modi broke his silence on the subject and lashed out at those involved in cow vigilantism.

"I get so angry at those who are into the gau-rakshak [cow protection] business. A gau-bhakt [cow devotee] is different; gau seva [service to cows] is different. I have seen that some people are into crimes all night and wear the garb of gau rakshaks in the day," he said.