The head of a cow protection group in Uttar Pradesh’s Shamli district on Monday led a mob which allegedly thrashed and paraded two Muslim men, on the suspicion of smuggling cows. Anuj Bansal, the head of the group, was arrested, while the two youth were booked under the Uttar Pradesh Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act, PTI reported.

Superintendent of Police Shlok Kumar said Dilshad and Shah Rukh were ferrying two cows, which they claimed they had taken from a temple priest. According to the First Information Report, the priest, who was in the vehicle carrying the bovines, told the vigilantes that they had bought the cows for rearing, but the mob did not believe him, and beat up the two men. The priest was not harmed.

The police soon rushed to the spot and rescued the youth, Kumar said. Dharmendra Panwar, the station house officer of the Adarsh Mandi Police Station, told The Times of India that seven or eight attackers have been booked.

Bansal, the head of the Shamli Hindu Gau Rakshak Dal, claimed that the group received information around 5 am on Monday that some people were taking cows for slaughter. “When we found the truck, they tried to ram our vehicle, but we managed to stop them at a railway crossing,” he said. “Three of the five persons in the truck fled while we caught the other two and handed them over to the police.”