Two brothers in Assam who had recently been released from prison in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak were beaten to death in the state’s Baksa district, the police said. The incident, which took place in Athiabari village, may have taken place due to “village enmity”, a senior district official told

The two dead men, Biswajit Das and Haradhan Das, were “veteran criminals” and had recently been released from prison following a Supreme Court order to decongest jails due to the Covid-19 outbreak, said the official. “The two brothers have been involved in heinous crimes in the area such as extortion and robbery, and have been accused of murder also,” the police official said.

After being released, the siblings were reportedly staying at a relative’s house in a neighbouring area. On the morning of April 22, they returned home to Athiabari when a “scuffle broke out” between them and other villagers, said the police official. “In that scuffle, these two people died,” the officer said.

The police added that there was “no communal angle” to the episode. “It happened because the two of them were involved in many oppressive activities in the area,” he said.

The police have yet to make any arrests, and an investigation is underway, said the official.