Muhammad Majloom, 35, and Azad Khan, 15, both cattle traders, were herding 8 buffaloes to a Friday market when they were overcome, beaten, and hanged from a tree, by suspected cattle-protection vigilantes in Balumath forests, Latehar district.
The bodies of the two men who are relatives, were strung up with their hands tied behind their backs and their mouths stuffed with cloth. A local MLA claimed that Hindu radicals were behind the murders, and reports said villagers who protested the murders claimed the victims were killed because they were cattle traders.
The hanging sparked protests that turned violent when police tried to take down the bodies, increasing the serious political and law and order challenge the BJP government faces in Jharkhand.
Authorities say they are gathering leads to verify if the murder was personal or a business enmity, or possibly another motive. The buffaloes were free but it is uncertain if the animals were taken by the assailants or if they strayed into the forest. An FIR was filed against unknown persons for the murders.