A senior police official from Jalpaiguri said police has started investigations and the bodies had been sent for post mortem. Photograph: (ANI)
The two victims were Hafizul Sheikh and Anwar Hussain from Assam and West Bengal's Coochbehar district
Villagers in West Bengal Sunday lynched two Muslims to death, suspecting them to be cow thieves, police confirmed.
The incident took place at 3am in West Bengal's Jalpaiguri district, about 15 kms from the town of Dhupguri.
The two victims were identified as Hafizul Sheikh from Assam and Anwar Hussain from West Bengal's Coochbehar district.
A senior police official from Jalpaiguri said police has started investigations and the bodies had been sent for post mortem.
It is not confirmed whether the victims were cow thieves or cattle traders who had bought the cattle from a market in the area, police said.
The victims were reportedly travelling on a pickup van with seven cows through the village at night. The villagers were alerted by the noise of the van which was encircling the area after losing its away. Alerted by the noise, the villagers tried to stop the van, but the vehicle sped off.
The villagers then blocked the road and forced the van to stop. Two of the passengers were caught by villagers while the driver managed to flee.
They questioned the two victims for a while and then lynched them on suspicion of being cattle thieves.
The police rushed them to a local hospital where they were declared brought dead.
There has been a surge in attacks by "cow protection" vigilante groups this year, who roam highways inspecting livestock trucks for any trace of the animal.
In a similar incident in June, three Muslim youth were lynched to death in West Bengal's Uttar Dinajpur district.
The same month Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned killing in the name of cow protection after a Muslim teenager accused of carrying beef was stabbed to death on a train.
In April, a Muslim man was beaten to death by a mob in Rajasthan state after they discovered cows in his truck.
The following month two Muslims were beaten to death on suspicion of stealing cows. In both cases, police were accused of failing to act quickly enough to protect the victims.