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Two people, including a police officer, have been killed in northern India during violent protests by villagers over suspicions of cow slaughter, officials said.
Police in northern India have arrested four people for their alleged involvement in an attack on police over rumors of cow slaughter.
The incident took place on Monday in the city of Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh state. The area is 300 kilometers (200 miles) southwest of Lucknow, the state capital.
Inspector Subodh Kumar Singh and a 20-year-old man died after clashes erupted in a village in Uttar Pradesh state’s Bulandshahr district.
The officer died from gunshot wounds, district magistrate Anuj Kumar Jha told Reuters news agency.
Doctors & #Bulandshahr DM confirmed to me Inspector #SubodhKumarSingh died due to bullet in his skull. Right wing groups protesting against cow slaughter attacked Subodh Kumar with stones & shot him. @myogiadityanath,first deal with terrorists operating from right under your nose
— Tanushree Pandey (@TanushreePande) December 3, 2018
Earlier, police had said the officer was stoned to death while the resident died from gunshot wounds.
The chaos began after beef and a few animal bones were found in a field in a village.
Cow slaughter is banned in parts of India, including Uttar Pradesh.
Kumar said police arrested four people and were looking for the main suspect, Yogesh Raj. While it was not clear if any hard-line groups were behind the attack, Raj is alleged to be a member of right-wing Bajrang Dal, the youth wing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad, a Hindu group that opposes cow slaughter.
On Monday, the villagers blocked a road, demanding the responsible be arrested for slaughtering cows, Kumar said. When police asked them to lift the blockade, they attacked police, he said.
“Soon, the protesters outnumbered police,” he said. “They snatched arms, mobiles and cartridges of police. The policemen retreated. Someone from the crowd opened fire that killed the police inspector.”
The crowd also torched a police outpost, police jeeps and a few private vehicles during the violence, he said.
India’s Hindu majority regards cows as holy and their slaughter is banned in several Indian states.
“We sent police teams to control the crowd after we heard protesters pelted stones and some even opened fire,” Jha told DPA news agency by phone.
Opposition parties blamed the Hindu nationalist government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for patronizing hard-liners in the name of protecting cows.
Modi however, has condemned the attacks and promised tough action against the perpetrators, but opposition leaders accuse the government of indirectly supporting the so-called Hindu cow vigilantes.