A Muslim man was beaten to death for dating a Hindu girl in India, police said Friday, in the latest mob violence against minorities in the country.
Mohammad Shalik, 20, was set upon by dozens of people from the town where he lived after he was spotted dropping off his girlfriend on his scooter near her home in the Gumla district of eastern Jharkhand state.
The mob tied him to a pole in front of the girl and lashed at him with sticks and belts in an ordeal that lasted for hours late Wednesday.
He died of his injuries on Thursday, police said. “We are trying to find whether the mob was instigated by the (girl’s) family,” Chandan Kumar Jha, Gumla police chief told AFP.
He said three people have been arrested and more were wanted over the killing, which is being treated as religiously motivated. The young couple had been together for about a year and had faced threats in the past, Jha said. Inter-religious relationships are still a taboo in India, particularly in rural areas.
The issue has become a flashpoint for nationalists in recent years, with Hindu extremists raising fears of “love jihad” — claims that Muslim boys were attempting to seduce and elope with Hindu girls across the country to convert them.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) made claims of protection of Hindu women a part of their electoral strategy in a March vote in populous Uttar Pradesh state.
The latest Hindu mob violence comes less than a week after a 55-year-old Muslim man was fatally attacked in western Rajasthan state over allegations that he was smuggling cows, as tensions rose over the slaughter of an animal Hindus consider sacred.