GUWAHATI: Four men from Sootea in Assam were travelling in a tempo van and were set upon by a cow mob at 4a.m. near the Diplunga tea estate. They were brutally beaten, one died on the spot and three others were seriously injured with the mob insisting that they were cow thieves from Upper Assam.

As always the news has broken on the social media through a video where the men are seen pleading for their lives. The police, of course, told local media after the incident that two “stolen” cows were recovered from the van.

The mob attacked the four men with sticks and clubs and continued beating them, despite the pleas. One of the injured men told the local television channels, “We were on our way to buy pigs from Diplunga tea estate early on Wednesday morning when a mob armed with sticks, iron rods etc. stopped us and started attacking, accusing us of being cow thieves.”

The police, however, supported the mob in insisting that the victims had stolen cows and were transporting them and have registered a case against the victims. An anonymous official has been quoted in sections of the media as stating,“A case of cow theft has been registered. We have no information about the victims going to buy pigs. Since they are injured we are yet to record their statements.” Not a single person from the mob has been arrested as yet with the police claiming they are looking for them.

The injured victims were taken to a private nursing home in Biswanath Chariali town where one of them, Deben Rajbongshi, died. The other three, Phoolchand Sahu, Bijoy Nayak and Pujen Rajbongshi, who sustained injuries on their heads, legs and arms, are undergoing treatment. All are adivasis, very poor, and working in the tea gardens.

Two months ago, in June, two young men, Nilotpal Das and Abhijeet Nath, were lynched by a mob on charges of being child abductors. This was in Karbi Ablong. Students and others came out in protest against the incident but in vain with a lathi charge ending the demonstration of conscience.

More details are awaited.