A village mob in northern India went berserk and beat a Muslim man to death with sticks as well as severely injured four others who were accused of smuggling cows to be slaughtered for beef, police said in a statement issued on Friday.
The survivors then, were ignominiously arrested for alleged animal cruelty. Hard-line Hindus have been trying to force a national ban on cow slaughter, effectively triggering mob violence.
A Muslim man was lynched in Uttar Pradesh state last month over false rumours his family had eaten beef for dinner.
Officer Somya Sambhasivam said police were searching for villagers who fled after the attack on Wednesday in Sarahan, a village in Himachal Pradesh state. The area is nearly 260 kilometres north of New Delhi.
The mob chased the truck loaded with five cows and 10 bulls and attacked the five men in the vehicle, Sambhasivam said.
The five hid in the forest until police found them and took them to hospital, where one of them died, she said. Police arrested the four survivors for alleged cruelty towards the animals, causing injuries to them during transportation in the truck, she said.
Police were investigating whether the assailants belonged to a Hindu hard-line group.
The Press Trust of India said those attacked were all Muslims from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh state.
Violence by Hindu fringe groups has increased since Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party came to power last year.