Cows are considered holy by many Hindus in India. Cow slaughter is banned in 21 of the country's 29 states. Photograph: (Zee News Network)
Pehlu Khan is the tenth person to have been killed by cow protectors in the last 24 months
A Muslim man in India died Wednesday after being assaulted by cow protectors in India's western state of Rajasthan.
On Monday, 55-year-old Pehlu Khan was allegedly smuggling cows when a bunch of cow vigilantes apparently associated with Hindu nationalist groups -- Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad -- beat him and four others in Alwar, roughly 165 km from New Delhi, Guardian reported.
Khan and the other injured were beaten up despite them furnishing documents to show they had purchased the cows legally,
The victim's uncle Husain said that Khan was not a butcher but a dairy farmer, and had bought the cows for dairy business, BBC reported.
Although the local police have listed 200 suspects, they are yet to arrest anyone for Khan's murder.
Khan became the 10th victim in the last two years to be killed by cow vigilantes in the country.
Cow is revered by religious Hindus in India and beef meat is eschewed by them.
Beef in India is largely consumed by Muslims, Christians and people belonging to lower Hindu castes.
Consumption of beef has been a torchlight for communal clashes in India over the years, largely between Hindus and Muslims.
The issue of cow protection resuscitated after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to ban beef across the country during his election campaign in 2014.
Cow vigilantes, emboldened by the increasingly assertive Hindu nationalism in the country, turned the issue of cow protection on its head in 2015 when a Muslim man named Mohammed Ikhlaq was lynched in Dadri, a town in north India.
Several other leaders belonging to Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party have also talked tough on cattle smuggling and beef consumption in recent times.
One of the first things Yogi Adityanath, the recently appointed chief minister of India's most populous state Uttar Pradesh, did was to clamp down on illegal slaughterhouses.
Raman Singh, chief minister of another state Chhattisgarh, also threatened to hang those found guilty of cow slaughter.
India's western state of Gujarat last week passed a legislation that punishes cow killers with life imprisonment.
Cow vigilante groups have also become active in several states of the country. They routinely waylay vehicles to inspect them to deter people from smuggling cows.