Two men transporting cattle were found dead on Friday after allegedly being chased by unidentified persons in the Raipur district, said the Chhattisgarh Police, The Indian Express reported.

The family of one of the men has alleged that they were lynched.

According to the police, the men were found lying on rocks below a bridge in the Arang area. They were identified as 35-year-old Guddu Khan and 23-year-old Chand Miya Khan. A third person who was with them, 23-year-old Saddam Qureshi, was found injured and is undergoing treatment.

Qureshi and Chand Miya Khan were cousins. Both were from Uttar Pradesh’s Saharanpur district. Guddu Khan was from the Shamli district in the state.

A cousin of Qureshi and Chand Miya Khan told The Indian Express that the two men called home multiple times between 2 am and 4 am on Friday as they were allegedly being assaulted.

The cousin claimed that during one of these calls, which lasted for 47 minutes, Qureshi could be heard screaming for help and pleading not to be assaulted.

“We could also hear some men ask him, ‘kahan se laaye ho…chodenge nahi [where did you bring it from…we will not spare you],’” said the cousin.

He also claimed that during one of the calls, Chand Miya Khan told the family that they were being assaulted after their vehicle was stopped.

“Then someone snatched his phone,” said the cousin. “We did not call the police at the time since we didn’t think it would go to such an extent.” He said that the family kept trying to reach Chand Miya Khan but he did not pick up. “Finally, around 5 am, a police official picked up and said he was dead.”

The cousin claimed that the family did not know what work the men had been travelling for. “We just knew Chand is a driver.”

The police, meanwhile, said they had received information about the men being chased by some unidentified persons, “after which they were found lying below the Mahanadi bridge”.

Kirtan Rathore, additional superintendent of police, said: “On receiving the information, our team rushed to the spot. While one of them had died, two were rushed to a hospital in Mahasamund, where another succumbed. The third is in a serious condition at a hospital in Raipur city.”

He said that a vehicle with cattle was found on the bridge. “The post-mortem report of the two men is awaited,” the police official said. “We are checking CCTV footage along the route. Till now, we have no evidence to say it’s a case of mob lynching.”

Rathore also told The Indian Express that the bodies had external injuries but it was difficult to identify whether it was caused due to the fall or were inflicted before falling.

“They fell off the bridge from a height of around 30 feet and landed on stones,” he said. “Only doctors can clarify how the injuries were caused.”

Rathore told The Indian Express that the statements of the family members will be recorded and that the call records of the men will be checked.