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SRINAGAR, India (AP) — A Muslim man was fatally shot and another was injured by Hindu vigilantes in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Thursday over allegations of cow smuggling.
A group of Hindu men intercepted the two Muslims in the outskirts of southeastern Bhaderwah town before dawn and shot at them after an altercation, police said. A 50-year-old man died and another man was injured. Residents say the attack was carried out by so-called cow vigilantes.
The injured man, Yasin Hussain, told reporters the two were taking three horses, not cows, with them. He said at least eight men intercepted them, hurled abuses and without checking the animals fired shots at them.
Nayeem Ahmed Shah was hit in the head and died on the spot, Hussain said, adding that the attackers fled.
After the incident, the victims' families and their neighbors took to the streets demanding the arrest of the attackers. As more people assembled, the protesters attacked a police station with stones and damaged vehicles. Police fired tear gas and bullets in the air to quell the protests.
Authorities later imposed a curfew in Bhaderwah to prevent violence between Hindus and Muslims.
Police officer Shabir Ahmed Malik said police registered a murder case and detained at least seven people for questioning.
Hindus consider cows sacred, and slaughtering them or eating beef is illegal or restricted across much of India. Mob attacks on minority groups, especially Muslims, have been on the rise since the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.
Victims of cow vigilantes have been accused of smuggling cows for slaughter or possessing beef. At least 20 people have been killed by groups mostly believed to be tied to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's party. Modi is running for a second term in India's ongoing general election that ends on Sunday, with results due on May 23.
In Kashmir, where anti-India sentiment runs deep among the mostly Muslim residents, dozens of shops selling beef openly operate in the main city of Srinagar and other Muslim-majority areas despite a ban on cow slaughter.
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