At least six men beat a 16-year-old Muslim boy to death in northwest Delhi’s Mukundpur locality in the early hours of Tuesday, the Hindustan Times reported, quoting the police.

Two of the accused who have been arrested alleged that Abdul Rajik, who had arrived in the city from Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh 10 days ago for a job, had attempted to steal a bicycle from their home. The other four accused are absconding.

Rajik, who hails from Arariya in Bihar, had been studying in a madrassa in Kanpur before he found a job in Delhi as an electrician’s apprentice. He was staying with his elder brother Mushahid and two uncles. At 6.30 am on Tuesday, the police received a phone call about residents in the locality having caught a thief.

An unidentified police official said they found the boy lying unconscious near a drain. He was taken to hospital where doctors declared him brought dead.

After questioning them, the police detained autorickshaw driver Rajkumar and factory worker Nand Kishore for having assaulted the boy. The two are brothers. Their third brother, Triveni, and three cousins are absconding.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Northwest) Aslam Khan said Rajkumar and Kishore told the police they had caught Rajik at 3.30 am. “We are finding out what these men did with the boy in those three hours,” Khan told the Hindustan Times. “The men who have been held have alleged that the boy entered their house to steal valuables and money. One of the phones that belongs to an accused was found in the boy’s pocket. We have registered a case under Section 304 of the Indian Penal Code for culpable homicide not amounting to murder.”

Rajik’s uncles and cousin refuted the charges. “When I went to sleep around 11 pm on Monday, Abdul told me he would sleep too, but in the morning I was told that someone was beating him up in the next lane,” the boy’s cousin Tabarak told The Times of India. “When we went there, we we found he was already dead.”

Mushahid said neither he nor his uncles heard a sound at night, the Hindustan Times reported. “If my brother had sneaked into some house, our neighbours would have raised an alarm,” he pointed out. “We did not even hear him crying for help. He was dragged, tied and beaten to death.”

A neighbour who was one of the first to spot Rajik’s body said she too had not heard any commotion at night. “If there was a thief in a house, usually people raise alarm or call police,” said 32-year-old Rita Devi. “Nothing of that sort happened in the night.”