The Kerala Police have arrested two people in connection with the assault and death of a 27-year-old adivasi man in Palakkad district’s Attappady region, The Indian Express reported. The police had filed a case against 15 people on Thursday.

The residents of Agali town had accused the man A Madhu, who lived in the Kadukumanna tribal hamlet, of theft.

A group of people handed over Madhu to the Agali police after beating him with sticks. He reportedly collapsed and died in the police jeep while he was being taken to the Government Tribal Specialty Hospital in Kottathara.

“The people in the mob were all locals of Agali, not from outside,” Deputy Superintendent of Police N Subrahmaniyan told The News Minute. “But we cannot conclude that the death was caused by that. We can confirm the cause of death only after getting the postmortem report.”

Subrahmaniyan said that Madhu was suffering from a mental illness, and used to live in the forest and caves. At night, he used to reportedly steal rice from shops in the area and a theft case was pending against him at the Agali police station. “On Wednesday, he stole rice from a store at Kalkkanda,” the senior police officer told The News Minute. “On Thursday night, the mob went to the forest and beat him up.”

Selfie sparks anger

Meanwhile, social media users reacted with anger after the people who allegedly beat up Madhu posted selfies online.

Usha Punathil, a former employee at the Attapady Hills Area Development Society, expressed her shock and anger at the incident. “After stealing the land and everything the Adivasis owned, and made legislation for all that, now an Adivasi is beaten to death,” she wrote on Facebook. “He had nowhere to go when he was attacked. An adivasi is killed accused of stealing food, then how should we, who have stolen everything from them, be killed?”