The police on Friday said three men were lynched by a mob in the Saran district of Bihar over suspicion of cattle theft.
Police said the men were spotted by villagers in Bihar with a pickup truck that allegedly had two stolen buffaloes.
“Some 30 villagers gathered and many started beating the men with sticks till they collapsed. The victims were rushed to a hospital but they had died by then,” The district police chief, Har Rai said.
Rai said villagers were angry because the men who belonged to a nearby hamlet had stolen cattle from their villagers in recent weeks as well.
“We have arrested three villagers for taking the law in their hands,” Rai said, adding a case had also been filed against the alleged cattle thieves by the villagers.
Police rejected the killings being a religiously motivated hate crime, saying two victims were from the majority Hindu community while one was from the Muslim community.
Incidents of lynching and vigilante justice are regularly reported from India.
Hardline Hindu groups have led campaigns targeting Muslims and low caste Dalits over suspicion of cattle slaughter and beef consumption.
India’s Hindu majority regards the cow as holy and its slaughter is banned in several Indian states.
India also saw a spate of mob lynchings in 2018 sparked by rumours that child abductors were on the prowl.