Indian police have arrested five people after a Muslim man was beaten to death by a mob.
Tabrez Ansari, 24, died days after being attacked by people who accused him of stealing a motorcycle in the eastern state of Jharkhand, reports BBC.A video showing Ansari pleading for his life, and being forced to say chants praising Hindu gods has been widely circulated on social media.
His family alleges that police denied him treatment despite his injuries.
His wife Shahista Parveen told the BBC that Ansari had been tied to an electricity pole overnight and only handed to police the next day who then arrested him for theft.
He was transferred to a hospital four days later. She says he was beaten only after refusing to repeat the chants praising the Hindu gods.
State police have denied wrongdoing.
There have been several incidents of lynching reported in the state in recent years.Ansari died in hospital on Saturday four days after he was attacked in Jharkhand state.
“We have arrested the main accused for the murder, but a dozen people from the mob are on the run,” Kartik S., the Seraikela police chief, told AFP.
Kartik said the villagers accused the 24-year-old of being a thief and beat him for nearly 12-hours before he was taken into custody and then hospital.
He acknowledged that the video showed Ansari being forced to shout the Hindu slogans.
News of the death emerged as the Indian government rejected a US State Department report that said religious intolerance and violence against minorities has spiked under the right-wing Hindu Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The US religious freedom report said there had been growing numbers of attacks by groups claiming to protect cows—considered sacred by Hindus—on Muslims and low-caste Dalits since 2014 when Modi came to power.
The foreign ministry said: “India is proud of its secular credentials, its status as the largest democracy and a pluralistic society with a longstanding commitment to tolerance and inclusion.”
Dozens of people have been killed by Hindu groups over the past five years over allegations that they had slaughtered cows or eaten beef.
Experts said the landslide election win in 2014 by Modi’s conservative Bharatiya Janata Party had emboldened Hindus hardliners.
The BJP won an even bigger majority in May leading to fears of more communal violence.
Critics have accused Modi government of turning a blind eye to vigilante attacks on minority Muslims in the name of cow protection.
Modi has called the deaths “unacceptable” and called the mobs “anti-social” in his rare comments on the cases.
Slaughtering cows is illegal in many Indian states and some require a licence to transport them across state borders.