One man was lynched and three others were critically injured by a mob in Biswanath district of Assam that suspected them to be cattle lifters, police said on Thursday.
Biswanath Superintendent of Police Diganta Kumar Choudhury told PTI the incident took place early on Wednesday at Line Number 15 of Diplonga Tea Estate under the Sootea police station.
The SP said as per preliminary inquiry, the four men had allegedly stolen two cows from a person named Sankat Tanti and were fleeing in an auto van which had no number plate.
"After Tanti shouted for help, the villagers intercepted the four and started thrashing the suspected thieves. We have recovered the auto van and the two cows," Choudhury said.
Village defence party personnel called the police, which reached the spot immediately and rescued the four from the clutches of the attackers and rushed them to hospital, he said.
"One among them died, while the other three persons were being treated at a private hospital in Biswanath Chariali," Choudhury said.
The dead man was identified as Deben Rajbongshi, 35, and the injured as Pujan Ghatowar, 40, Phulchand Sahu, 25, and Bijoy Nayak, 25, he added.
All the four were residents of the nearby Gereki village, whose residents claim they were pig traders.
The police registered two cases, one against the four men for allegedly lifting two cows and another against the public for beating them but no arrest has been made yet.
Cases of vigilantism and moral policing have been reported in recent months from different Assam districts.
On June 8, two friends, Nilotpal Das and Abhijeet Nath, who had gone to Kangthilangso waterfalls in Karbi Anglong and while returning their vehicle was stopped at Panjuri Kachari by a group of irate villagers, who pulled them out and lynched them following rumours that they were childlifters.
10 days later a mob attacked a couple, who they claimed were unmarried, when they were travelling in a bike in Pukhurpur village of Goalpara district.
In yet another incident on June 23 a couple was assaulted the whole night by villagers of Jhumurmur in Nagaon district for allegedly having an illicit relationship before handing them over to police next day morning.
A mentally challenged woman was tied to a pole and tortured by village mob that suspected her to be a child lifter in a village under Thelamara police station in Sonitpur in Assam on July 1.