A 26-year-old man was allegedly lynched on Tuesday by a mob on suspicion of cattle theft in Tripura’s Sepahijala district, reported PTI. The victim has been identified as Litan Miah, a resident of Tarapukar village which falls under the Dhanpur Assembly constituency.

The police said they have arrested two persons in connection with the incident and a case has been filed under charges of murder and other provisions of the Indian Penal Code. Police received information on Tuesday morning that villagers had held a man captive for allegedly stealing cattle.

“On reaching there, we found that the man was seriously injured,” officer in charge of the local Jatrapur police station Nandan Das told ANI. “We took prompt action and shifted him to a local hospital.”

He was then referred to Govind Ballabh Pant Hospital in Agartala but died on the way, Das said.

The police have found no evidence to suggest Miah had stolen cattle.

His mother told ANI that Miah left home on Monday night but did not return. The mother said she came to know about the incident on Tuesday morning. Litan Miah’s father, Jamal Miah, then lodged a complaint with the police after which the two accused men – Sentu Debnath and Amar Chandra Das – were arrested.

Following the incident, a group of locals blocked the roads, demanding that the accused persons be released

Several instances of lynching have taken place in the country in the last five years in connection with allegations of cow theft and smuggling. A large number of those targeted have been Muslims.

In December, a 50-year-old man, identified as Mohammed Siddiqui, was beaten to death by a mob in Bihar’s Araria district for allegedly stealing cattle. In June, three men – Jayed Hossain (30), Billal Miah (28) and Saiful Islam (18) – were lynched on suspicion of cattle smuggling in Khowai district of Tripura.

In 2020, the South Asia State of Minorities Report had said that India “has become a dangerous and violent space for Muslim minorities”. The report said that the Bharatiya Janata Party, since assuming power in 2014, had “unveiled a new and now frontal attack on religious minorities and other vulnerable groups”.

“This has had a chilling effect on civic space for Muslims and Muslim-community-based organisations and activists specifically,” the report added.