A Hindu mob of thousands beat five men to death in rural India this week for allegedly skinning a cow alive. Cows are sacred to Hindus, and killing them is illegal in India. But Dalits, the low-caste people known as “untouchables,” may sell the hides of cows that die of natural causes. Police said they arrested five Dalits who were killing a cow near a temple, and when word of the crime leaked out, a mob stormed the prison and clubbed the men to death. Secular party leaders allege that the police incited the mob on purpose, to whip up Hindu nationalism. If that’s true, it worked: Many Hindus support the killings. “If this act becomes a deterrent to prevent others from doing this, then I think it was right,” said local Hindu leader Pitambar Gaur. “We consider the cow to be the mother of the world, of humanity.”
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