By MAHIBUL HOQUE / Maktoob Media

On 13 August, Imrul Hoque received a phone call from the superintendent of police of Assam’s Hojai district asking him if he knew Hifjur Rahman, his elder brother. The police informed Hoque that his brother had been lynched on suspicion of cow theft.

The 23-year-old rushed to Nagaon Civil Hospital and found that his brother had died from injuries sustained during a “brutal, inhuman beating.”

Hoque said his brother could have been anything because he was a person with a mental health condition but not a thief.

“He (Rahman) would ask for money from people and from shops, but never touch a thing to eat,” Imrul said. He was trying to get his brother’s body from the civil hospital to perform the last rites on Monday.

On 12 August, Rahman from Jayantia Basti in the Islam Nagar area entered a Hindu dominated village— Bamungaon in Lanka area— of Hojai district. Somehow, Rahman got rounded up by Hindu residents on suspicion of stealing cows. Locals from Bamungaon village had informed that there had been some incidents of cow theft in the area and they were keeping a vigil.

The vigilante party of the village had beaten Rahman before informing the police. A local police official from the Lanka police station said that they received information about the incident at around 2:40 a.m. Sunday and rushed to the spot.

The police then recovered a seriously injured Rahman and took him to a local hospital, where, the police claimed, he was declared dead.

Locals from Bamungaon also claimed that Rahman was caught red-handed stealing cows, an assertion outrightly discarded by the victim’s family.

“Everybody knew that he (Rahman) was a mentally unstable person. He used to roam all around the district. Sometimes he would go out of home for days before being found. You can see him trying to ask for something to eat. How can sensible men not see the mentally deranged person and kill him”, said Hoque as he shared his brother’s video, which clearly shows his condition.

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