MUMBAI, India – A Christian member of India’s marginalized Tribal community was murdered by a lynch mob in the eastern state of Jharkhand after being accused of selling beef.

The Sept. 22 attack in Khunti district – about 30 miles from the state capital Ranchi – left two other men in critical condition.

The police identified the deceased as Kalantus Barla, and the two injured men as Fagu Kachhapand and Phillip Hahoro. All three are Christians.

According to the police, a group of 12 to 15 men attacked the three men in Jaltanda Suari village early in the morning for allegedly selling beef at a riverside market.

The mob formed from neighboring villages after news of an alleged slaughtering of a cow spread through social media. Cows are considered sacred in Hinduism, and mobs often attack Muslims and Christians accused of participating in the beef trade.

Five of the alleged perpetrators have been arrested, and police are seeking the others.

Since 2014, India has been ruled by the Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has strong links to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a militant Hindu nationalist organization.

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Since then, incidents of harassment against the small Christian minority – which make up less than 3 percent of the population – have increased, with various Christians being detained or arrested for “attempted conversion,” and places of worship being vandalized. Christian schools have also been attacked by mobs insisting they allow Hindu religious ceremonies to take place on their campuses.

Communal violence has long plagued the country, but the rise of social media has made it easier to stir up mobs – in fact, in the country they are called ‘WhatsApp lynchings.’

First noticed in 2017, social media-related lynchings led to more than two dozen deaths in 2018.

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