India cow vigilantes held for beating up Muslim women over beef

Two Muslim women were also arrested on suspicion of selling beef on Wednesday Image copyright Suhail Niyazi
Image caption A video of the two women being beaten has gone viral in India

Four cow protection vigilantes have been arrested for beating up two Muslim women accused of carrying beef in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh.

The two women were also arrested on suspicion of selling cow meat, which is banned in the state - although a preliminary test found the meat they were carrying came from a buffalo.

All six people arrested in the case have now been released on bail.

A video showing the group beating up the women has gone viral in India.

Many Hindus consider cows sacred and the slaughter of the animal is banned in several states.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party government has come under increasing pressure from Hindu hardliners to do more to protect cows.

The state's home minister, Bhupendra Singh, said that the men would be punished, but said action would also be taken against anybody found to be smuggling beef.

There have been several other attacks on men and women across India, who have been accused of eating or smuggling beef.

A recent video of four Dalit men, believed to be tannery workers, being stripped and beaten with sticks for skinning a dead cow in western Gujarat state's Una town went viral and has sparked massive protests by Dalit groups in several states.

Last year, a Muslim man, Mohammed Akhlaq, was lynched by a mob that attacked his house over allegations that his family had been storing and consuming beef.

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