A 56-year-old Muslim man was lynched by a mob on Wednesday on the suspicion that he was carrying beef in Bihar’s Saran district, The Print reported.

Naseem Qureshi, a resident of Hasanpur village in the district, was travelling with his nephew Firoz Qureshi to meet some acquaintances when they were intercepted by the mob at Jogia village, about 110 km from Patna, on Tuesday.

According to the police, while Firoz Qureshi managed to escape, his uncle was beaten with wooden sticks.

Firoz Qureshi claimed that the local sarpanch Sushil Singh was also part of the mob.

“They stopped our moped and the sarpanch alleged that we were carrying beef and ordered the men to thrash us,” he said, according to The Print. “I escaped somehow by outrunning the men who chased me.”

The police said the mob themselves handed over Naseem Qureshi to the police, following which he was rushed to the hospital in Siwan but died during treatment on Wednesday.

They added that a first information report under Sections 302 (murder), 34 (act done by several persons with a common intention) and 379 (theft) of the Indian Penal Code have been registered.

Three persons – Ravi Sah, Ujwal Sharma and Singh – have been arrested in connection with the case, while two others are absconding, according to NDTV.

“We are treating it as a case of mob lynching,” Saran Superintendent of Police Gaurav Mangla told ThePrint. “It is under investigation whether Naseem was carrying beef or not at the time of the incident.”

Meanwhile, Naseem Qureshi’s brother, Ashraf Qureshi, accused the police of protecting those involved in the incident.

“The local police are trying to save the guilty,” he told The Print. “The police took my brother, who was seriously injured on a motorcycle instead of an ambulance.”